Confronting an employee who’s exhibiting poor performance or bad behavior can be stressful for small business leaders. No one likes to be the bad guy, so we often avoid difficult conversations with employees to put off the uncomfortable feelings associated. But poor performance or bad behavior, very rarely (if ever) get better on their own. Employees only improve when they are provided with constructive feedback and held accountable.

Another concern is that both poor performance and bad behavior can spread like wildfire through your organization if it is not addressed quickly. Harvard Business Review recently did some research to find out just how contagious bad employee behavior is. What they found is that the peer effects of misconduct are strong. If one employee omits misconduct, surrounding employees are 37% more likely to also commit misconduct.

At Helpside, we like to use a simple phrase when it comes to providing employee feedback, “if you see something, say something.” We even have a handy acronym to help leaders remember the steps when providing employee feedback.

S – Share observations

Describe the observed behavior so the recipient of the feedback can picture it in their mind’s eye. Share facts, not feelings.

  • Who was involved?
  • What did you observe?
  • Where did you observe the behavior?

E – Enquire for details

Set the tone and introduce the communication. Ask open ended questions to find out more details as well as open a dialogue.

  • Can you help me understand?
  • How do you see it?
  • Am I missing anything?

E –  Evaluate response

Evaluate the employee’s response and consider:

  • Is the employee acting immoral, unethical, or doing something illegal?
  • Is the action within or outside of the employees control?
  • Are there any policies, guidelines, or laws that factor in?
  • What impact does the behavior have to the individual, team, and the business?

S –  Share Impact

Let the employee know how their actions impacts the team/business. In your response include:

  • The observed behavior is (immoral, unethical, illegal).
  • This behavior was within of your control and you choose________.
  • The policy/guidelines/laws that this behavior impacted includes_______.
  • The impact to you, the team and/or our business includes________.

A –  Agree on next steps

Allow the employee to lead the communication about what they will do differently going forward:

  • What do you think are our next steps?
  • How may I best support you?

Confirm the agreement by restating what was agreed upon and document the results.

Y –  Yippee!

Celebrate your awesome leadership skills and pat yourself on the back for seeing something and saying something in a timely manner!

Having a plan will help your leaders immediately address both poor performance and bad behavior in the workplace and prevent a potential outbreak. Download a copy of the SEE SAY handout to share with your leaders. For even more information about providing performance feedback to employees, check out our on-demand webinar on the topic here.