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BLUF: What do I do when a DR apologizes for poor performance on a big issue?

I've got a DR (an intern) that has had some serious behavioral issues--in the past 2 weeks, there have been 3 days when he's been completely incommunicado. We're working remotely due to coronavirus, so to me it's the functional equivalent of no show, no call. He knows it's wrong, so the last time it happened, on the next business day, he reached out to me before I could try to call him for our standup call. When he called in this latest instance, I asked him how he could do better in the future, though I didn't point out the specific behavior (since he knew what it was), nor did I point out the effects.

If a DR apologizes for something prior to my giving feedback, how should I respond? He knows the behavior (i.e., not communicating at all), so I don't need to point out the behavior. Do I still point out the effect of the behavior? In addition to (or in lieu of) asking how they can do better in the future, what else should I be doing?

skohcl's picture

In effect your DR is trying to 'beat you to the punch' to suck the air out of your argument.  They likely think this is a disarming strategy that allows them to be the one to deliver the feedback to themselves in your presence, but what this does is takes the power away from you and gives them the role of 'self-policing' their own behaivor.

However, this is not the case, you are their superviser/manager and you are directly responsible for their quality of work and behaivor and therefore it falls on you to deliver feedback as required.  Regardless of whether you recieve an apology or not prior to any meaninful response it's important you ensure that this is recieved as a 'warning' or maybe listen to the podcast on how to deliver a 'shot across the bow' as I feel this is what this intern deserves.  Not being responsive in these times is unnacceptable, and a follow-up to discuss your expectations and specific goals for this person - in line with a performance improvement plan (or some outline of goals for improved performance, however a formal meeting with HR and performance improvement plan is what I would expect if this person were a long term employee).

So, don't ask how they can do better, tell them.

Anyways, these are my thoughts and suggestions, definitely listen to the shot across the bow podcast as, again, communication is everything when working from home and if there is no communication, there is no work.

Best,