How do I rein in an employee’s ego without putting out his flame?

Hi Aunty B,


I have recently employed a youthful employee with a high level of ability that I can see. I feel he will become quite an asset once he learns all the skills needed to do his job.


The problem I have is he has a pride issue and he also has an opinion problem. For someone who wants to make it somewhere in the world he has a tongue that needs much more taming, which puts a lot of people off.


My question is, what is the best way to rein him in without putting out his flame?


Thanks for your time.


Bathurst NSW



Dear BL


Does he work for you too? What you need to do is tell him, that’s what. And he will look back and remember you as one of the great influences in his life (one day.) I put this to our resident people manager guru Eve Ash and here are her recommendations.


First step: Establish regular one-on-one chats with every direct report monthly at least, or fortnightly, to discuss work, results, processes, changes, give encouragement, review progress etc.


Second step: Establish some ground rules for effective communication – say something like “we want to build a really positive open feedback culture in this team so I would like to agree that at our regular meetings we are able to openly and honestly give feedback – you to me and me to you – of anything we are concerned about, where we see mistakes, or don’t understand. Yes I am happy to receive feedback.


Third step: Agree on work standards and KPIs for outputs and also the way in which people will communicate – such as respect, care, co-operation etc.


Fourth step: Ask for what kinds of supervision style suit him best – how he likes to be briefed and updated, and have work checked.


Fifth step: Give feedback, with specific examples, about his performance each month or daily ideally – and refer to the above standards, agreements etc.


BUT BE SPECIFIC! Don’t just say the way you speak puts people off. And remember to give the positives first. For example, say: “I can see you are doing so well and learning quickly. I like the way you handled ABC. I’ve noticed that this morning when you said XYZ to person A, she seemed upset and maybe felt annoyed, and just now when you cut me off as I was trying to explain X, I felt annoyed. Maybe I or other people have never stopped to say how they react to what you say, but it’s always better to tell you face-to-face rather than have others talk behind your back. Can you see that sometimes some of the things you say may cause a reaction in others?”


Good luck – let us know how you go.


Your Aunty B.


Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch

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