Ask Shawn: An inappropriate imitation request
My well-meaning boss will frequently say to a team member who isn't performing up to par, "You should be more like (another employee)." I've seen the team member not only take offense to the boss's statement but also feel resentment toward the other employee for being the favorite. Does this management approach have any real positives? —CURIOUS BYSTANDER
This approach has disaster written all over it. The goal of providing feedback for team members is for it to have a positive effect on behavior. Practice managers and owners can provide this by enhancing the employee's self esteem and investing in time to coach team members. Comparing one to another will embarrass the employee, creating a lack of self-esteem. It will also send the message that the boss is not willing to spend the time to teach team members how to do things correctly.Instead of comparing the team member to one who is supposedly outperforming her, your boss should simply focus on the behaviors he'd like to see. He should schedule a meeting with the team member to coach her on the specific areas in which he'd like to see improvement. Most importantly, he should avoid making comparisons—positive or negative—with other employees.
One final consideration: In addition to the hurt feelings of this particular team member, what message is your boss sending to the rest of the employees by publicly admonishing their peer? Perhaps an acknowledgement of the error and an apology is in order. —SHAWN
Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics editorial advisory boards and is CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Phoenix.