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Tactful criticism

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Question: During a performance review, how do you tactfully discuss with an employee -- point out to an employee -- that he or she spends way too much time visiting with co-workers in surrounding cubicles?  -- Jean


Comments

Jean, we are also in the midst of reviews and this issue also came up... We were torn as how to write it down as "exceissive talking" was too extreme, therefore decided that the best wording was "you spend an inordinate amount of time socializing."

I like Betty's phrase "you spend and inordinate amount of time socializing", then allow for a long pause and let it fall on the employee to explain. This employee may be done with their work and feel they have "free time" which is not good for co-workers to see because they perceive it as slacking. Then ask about their workload and would he/she be willing to take on more work to fill their time. If you have someone with good work ethics they may be willing to do more. On the other hand if this person avoids work you will have to assign more to keep him/her quiet. Follow-up and hold this person accountable, if not their "excessive socializing" will begin to break down the efficiency of the whole office. I've worked in that kind of environment and it had gotten way out of hand before I arrived and is at this point irreversible. I have since moved out of that department and am glad. Our whole organization suffers financially as this is the accounts receiveable department. Their socializing/slacking has cost our whole organization raises one year. There is nothing wrong in trying to "nip it in the bud" early on.

Is it affecting his or her work quality or output? Is the employee looking to advance, yet missing the opportunity to take on other assignments or study new things in the seemingly available time during which he or she is socializing? Is his or her socializing having a negative affect on other workers because of the interruptions? If you can answer "yes" to any of these and provide actual, concrete, documented examples, then I think you should just get to the point and explain it to the employee. You cannot be vague with unsubstantiated examples or observations. You can, however, point to how the behavior actually affects the indidual, those around him or her, and the opportunities that may be lost because of it.

Many times a person is unaware of the totality of his or her own behavior. Do this in a constructive fashion without blame and you may be surprised at the positive outcome.

I agree with Bernie. I would also consider striking a healthy balance between being productive and some socializing.

And has this employee been made aware of this issue prior to the review? I know that I would not like to be broad-sided with something like that at a performance review. If something is an issue, it should be addressed immediately, not delayed until a performance review (in my opinion).

My problem is the ones who take breaks, always use my work area for their breaks. My concern is the principals will believe that I've initiated the conversations. I'm in the lobby and located in route to the restrooms, thus my co-workers use my area for breaks. I hope the principals realize I have not initiated the conversation.

I agree with the comment above: Has this employee been made aware of this issue prior to the review? I know that I would not like to be broad-sided with something like that at a performance review. If something is an issue, it should be addressed immediately, not delayed until a performance review."

In all my years in office work, I've been taught that a review should never have surprises. If you've done your job all year, there wouldn't be a fear of how to phrase the problem because you would have already discussed the problem with this person probably a number of times by now. If you've just waited until now to bring this issue up to the offender.. well, shame on you.

Again, there's always three sides to every story, yours, hers and the "whole" truth!

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