The most important counsel I gave a friend recently was to keep her confidence after she found herself managed under the informal stage of her employer’s poor performance process.
As important as it was to advise her as to the next steps regarding policy and procedure, I emphasised that the most important decision she would need to make is to keep her confidence and refuse to allow the situation to mess with her head.
Sometime after this conversation, I thought to myself, what about those individuals who don’t have access to the advice and support that my friend had? So in response, I have put together the following 10 points.
1. Keep your head, keep your confidence
Being managed under informal or formal process is upsetting for most people. However, even though you may feel worried, scared, anxious or fearful, you will serve yourself well if you make the quality decision up front to keep your head so that you can navigate the processes with confidence and clarity.
2. Be quick to listen and slow to speak
Concerns about poor performance are usually raised by a line manager. As tempting as it may be to want to jump in and defend yourself, try to resist the temptation to interrupt. Instead, listen calmly to the concerns that your manager is presenting to you along with the specific examples. Being quick to listen and slow to speak will support you to process the points that are being put to you so that you can determine how to respond appropriately and objectively. If there are things you could have done differently, share this with your manager so that you can contribute to your action plan to improve your performance.
3. Remain professional at all times
This may sound obvious, but it can be easy for emotions to overcome professionalism. If you feel your control slipping:
- Go and sit quietly in meeting room
- Go for a walk
- Find a private place and call a trusted friend or advisor
- Request a short period of annual leave
The point is this, do what is appropriate for you to remain professional at all times.
4. Agree to disagree
Occasions may arise during the process whereby it is difficult to get agreement or consensus on specific points. If this happens, avoid getting locked into an argument or unproductive narrative. Simply, agree to disagree while asking for your perspective to be noted.
5. Familiarise yourself with the policy and procedure you are being managed under
Make it a priority to read and understand policy and process you are so that you can respond appropriately. If other policies are referred to, you will also need to read and familiarise yourself with these too. If you require clarification on any policy or procedure, speak to a member of your HR team, line manager or trade union representative.
6. Contact your trade union
Your trade union is a good source of advice and support. Contact them sooner rather than later. If you are not a member of a trade union, a colleague may accompany you to formal meetings.
7. Know the details of your case better than anyone else
Even with the best trade union representation, remember this is your contract of employment, and that should be a powerful enough incentive to become your best advocate.
8. Maintain confidentiality
Make sure you adhere to your organisation’s confidentiality requirements regarding who you can discuss the details of your case. If in doubt, speak to your manager.
9. Employee Assistance Scheme
Your employer may offer you support through an employee assistance programme. Employee assistance programmes are confidential services which provide short-term counselling and health and well-being services. These services may provide additional support to you beyond that which you may already have in place.
On whether you could have done anything differently or any potential lessons. There is always something to learn and implement to go forward.
Remember to make the quality decision to serve yourself well by keeping your head and keeping your confidence.
Dawn H Jones is an HR Consultant, coach, and blogger.
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