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In this weekly series, Todd Dewett, PhD, shares the tips respected and motivated managers use to improve rapport, navigate tricky situations, build better relationships, and drive the business forward. Each week, we'll release two tips ranging from avoiding the dreaded micromanagement to managing a multigenerational workforce, cultivating better listening skills, and developing an understanding of your organization's politics. Check back every Wednesday for more Management Tips.
This course qualifies for 4.5 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.
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- Here's a situation we've all seen. You're sitting in a meeting at work. The conversation seems pretty normal. But then, things get a little heated, as people run into issues where they don't agree. You notice, but hey, you've seen this many times. It's normal. Then, someone starts swearing, and personally attacking the intelligence of one of your colleagues. Let me be specific. Your colleague, Jim, says to another colleague, Leonard, "That's a stupid idea, Leo. "Do you even realize what you're saying?" The people in the meeting look startled.
Now, let's say you're the boss. What do you do? Well, let's start with what you don't do. Don't choose to do nothing. That only encourages more bad behavior. Also, don't choose to respond with similar bad behavior. That is likely to cause real damage. Instead, let me offer you an escalating series of options to consider. First, if the behavior was bad, but in the context of your group is considered mildly deviant, instead of extremely deviant, begin by simply shifting the focus away from the offender.
So if the bad vibe is between Jim and Leo, you turn to Sarah and say, "Sarah, what about you? "If we go this route, what are your concerns?" Many times a simple diversion of this nature works very well. However, if the bad behavior is repeated soon after, you have to speak up. Again, if it's not extreme, try addressing the group, not the offender. You might say, "Okay, guys, "we're all getting a little heated. "Let's keep it positive and stay on point." Then shift the focus to someone else.
Now if Jim engages the same or similar behavior again, you have to escalate. This time you have no choice but to call them out by name. For example, you might politely say, "Jim, I said we're going to keep this positive, okay?" At this point, you'll also need to talk to Jim offline, because this type of behavior can't be allowed to continue. Go see him, preferably right after the meeting. When you do, cover these topics. State that you take issue with their behavior at the meeting.
Then be very specific by describing the behavior in a nearly verbatim manner. Then explain why this is an issue. And finally, be very clear about your behavioral expectations moving forward. Close by gaining their acknowledgment that they understand your expectations. Dealing with abhorrent behavior can be a challenge. You have to know when and how to intervene without making matters worse. Follow the process we just outlined, and you'll have a great chance to remove that behavior from your group so you can get back to being productive.
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