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Training a bucking bronco?

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in Business Etiquette,Workplace Communication

by Letitia Baldrige

Q. I'm training a new team member, and every time I clarify or correct something she has done, she immediately becomes defensive and short with me. How should I give her direction so it doesn't spark a defensive reaction? What should I do when she reacts that way?

A. It's my opinion that when a new employee becomes a bucking bronco, the teacher is not doing his or her job correctly. Ask yourself these questions to review how you proceeded with this employee from the beginning:

1. Did you give her a thorough description of her duties and familiarize her with the organization? Did you act proud of the organization yourself when you talked about it?

2. Did you introduce all the people who will be working in or near the newcomer, so that she understands what each person does and how the team forms pieces of a puzzle that fit together well? Did you flatter them when introducing them to her and flatter her when introducing her to them?

3. Does she firmly understand what's going on in the different programs with which she's involved?

4. Does she have a peer to whom she can freely go for explanations if she is confused or feels inept?

Assure her that you're her advocate and want her to succeed. Ask her to eat lunch with you. She may be feeling inadequate, particularly in comparison to other team members who have been there a long time and seem to know what they're doing.

A bucking bronco can be soothed into cooperation, but it's up to you, not the bronco.


Author: Letitia Baldrige has been called "America's foremost authority on manners." She has written dozens of books on manners, entertaining and design.

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