Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for June, 2014

Addressing performance on the spot? Keep it private and respectful.

For years, I frequented a restaurant in the city, often choosing it as a place to meet family and friends. The owner seemed very warm and always took a few minutes to say hello and have a pleasant exchange with us. One day, I sat at the counter and witnessed the owner of the restaurant harshly reprimand his employee right in front of me. I no longer chose this restaurant. That was over a decade ago.

The reasons I didn’t go back?…I lost regard for the owner and I was embarrassed for the employee. Neither of these were feelings I would choose to have while eating my dinner. And both feelings diminished my desire to support the business as a customer.

I was reminded of this experience a couple of weeks ago when one of my mom’s doctors did the same in front of her and me, while we were waiting for her appointment. After being harsh with his employee in front of us, he turned to us and said that he wanted us to know that the reason he called her on the carpet was how strongly he felt about the quality of service that was provided to his patients. All I could think of was how he wasn’t thinking about the quality of service he provided his employee, and that he just diminished the quality of the service my mom and I were experiencing.

Sometimes, addressing performance on the spot is necessary, and/or most helpful and effective. But doing it in private and of course maintaining the esteem of the employee while doing it, will only increase the chances of your feedback being heard and considered. —And you’ll maintain the respect of your employees and/or customers.

Transitions: Letting go of the old, embracing the new

My husband and I are in the midst of moving. We’re moving from a 4-bedroom, 2-bath, 3-porch apartment in the city that we’ve been renting for close to 29 years—to a one-bedroom loft apartment in the same neighborhood. While we’ve dreamed about the change and new experience, and are psyched about purging our unused “stuff”, we’re overwhelmed with the work it takes to get there, and sentimental about what, in some ways, is the end of an era. There are a great deal of emotions that go along with letting go of the old and embracing the new.

At work, as an external professional, I’ve observed and experienced workplace and organizational change from a bit of a distance. Yet, I’ve served as a confidant to so many who are in the center of organizational change and experiencing varied levels of emotion and professional goodbyes. I can assure you that what author William Bridges states in his 1991 book “Managing Transitions” still holds true:

“Change may happen very quickly, yet transition may take a while, and not everyone goes through it at the same pace.”

Bridges’ model highlights these three stages of transition that people go through when they experience change. I’ve found these stages inevitable whether the change is desired or unwanted:
1. Ending, Losing, and Letting Go—People need to let go of the past before they can embrace the new.
2. The Neutral Zone—People begin to explore their comfort with the new change.
3. The New Beginning—People begin to embrace the new change.

If you’re experiencing change—who isn’t, right?—or leading others through change, I encourage you to explore Bridges’ model further. Our ability to effectively understand and manage ourselves and/or those we lead through change is not only an art, it’s crucial to success in today’s work environment.

Some say that when possible, it’s a great idea to have a ritual of some kind to provide closure and help people move on from the first or second stage of transition. I read a case study once about a credit card company who was closing down a whole division and location because a particular type of credit card was no longer being offered by the company. Right before the division was closed, the leadership team held a meeting to thank their employees for their hard work over the years. As a momento, they also had key rings made for everyone with a miniature of the discontinued credit card attached. I thought that was a great idea.

Our home has always been a kind of hub for our family. My son suggested a family sleepover for our children and their families to celebrate our memories there and say goodbye to our old digs. We’re hoping to make that happen. Wait! I think we’re moving into the neutral zone! Next stop…..New Beginnings.