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Convey displeasure, not disgust

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Neil Patterson lost it. Fed up with his employees’ poor effort, the CEO of Cerner Corp. wrote an e-mail to senior managers that read, in part, “Hell will freeze over before this CEO implements ANOTHER EMPLOYEE benefit in this Culture. What you are doing, as managers, with this company makes me SICK.”

Patterson’s message triggered widespread anger among his managers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

If you’re unhappy with your employees’ performance, learn from Patterson’s blunder. Express displeasure without coming down too hard:

Invite input. Rather than criticize workers, let them rate themselves. Ask, “How would you evaluate your work?” Don’t interrupt if you object. Let them finish and have them reconcile reality (“This project is $100,000 over budget,” “You’ve promised three times to do this”) with their inflated self-evaluation.

Turn down the volume. Some CEOs yell and curse to convey their disgust. But the effect soon wears off. Employees learn to hunker down and wait for the storm to blow over. They also grow resentful at being treated with disrespect.

It’s better to speak softly and say, “I’m not pleased” or “This is unacceptable.” Force others to strain to hear you. And make piercing eye contact.

Your displeasure will come across loud and clear.

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