The atmosphere in the department was decidedly different on the rare days when Jean wasn’t at work. People were in a better mood, customers seemed easier to deal with, and more work was accomplished.
On the other hand, Jean’s very presence seemed to invite conflict. She complained about management, about the customers and the other employees, and about the amount of work she had to do. Often she completely ignored the presence of those working near her. She concerned herself only with her own assigned responsibilities and prided herself on her attendance record and “work ethic.” When a change in procedure or job responsibilities was called for, Jean’s reaction was predictable: negative. When group problem solving was called for, her response was predictable as well: uncooperative.
While no one would complain about Jean’s work, everyone in the department resented her demeanor and lack of teamwork. Two of the employees were actively looking for other positions because of the constant tension in the department.
Problem – Company management is focusing only on the quantity and quality of Jean’s work. Because both are above “satisfactory,” her manager has failed to address her behavior. What is not being recognized is the negative effect of Jean’s actions. Department productivity, employee job satisfaction and ultimately customer satisfaction, are being sacrificed because of her behavior.
The focus is solely on performance and productivity; behaviors are being overlooked. The mission statement hanging on the wall in the reception area of Jean’s company incorporates values the company believes in: mutual respect, teamwork and positive “can do” attitudes. But in practice, those values are being ignored.
This company must clearly identify and reinforce its values – because values drive behavior. The value statement is the basis for establishing company behavioral standards. Those standards must then become part of each person’s job description and performance appraisal.
Even with a written value statement, senior management is communicating the company’s true values through the managers’ own behaviors and their responses to the behaviors of their people.
Nowhere is the truism “actions speak louder than words” more pertinent.
If standards for behavior are not established throughout the company, an effective approach may be for Jean and her coworkers to meet with a facilitator and agree on their “code of conduct” – a list of what they expect from each other. You can be sure this list will include such behaviors as “professional courtesy,” “positive attitudes,” “taking complaints directly to the person involved,” “mutual respect” and “willingness to help each other.”
Ideally, department members will hold themselves and each other accountable to that agreed-upon code. If not, the manager or supervisor must monitor individual and department behaviors. Coaching and counseling Jean to meet these behavioral expectations will create a more positive work environment for everyone and improve productivity as well.
Solutions to Roadblocks is provided by Performance Consulting, a Brookfield training and consulting firm. Small Business Times readers who would like a “roadblock” addressed in this column can contact the author, Lois Patton, at 781-7823 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t overlook company values in reviews, they drive personal performance Lois patton, for SBT