An Action Plan For Curbing Negative Behavior

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about composing a corrective plan for an assistant manager.

I need to write an action plan for my assistant manager because sometime she makes comments to employees that are negative and she threatens to quit even though I know she is just venting.

Signed, Manager

Dear Manager:

I sense you want to be supportive of your assistant manager, yet think you can’t be so without helping her see how she interacts with those in your charge. An action plan is a pro-active way to do this. Such a plan is most effective when it:

Is job specific and defines behaviors expected.

Includes dates for reviewing how well the plan is being carried out.

A plan should be connected with your concerns for her own career planning and progress.

If collaboratively generated, will take on greater ownership and less resistance.

Therefore, in light of these three principles, I suggest that a meeting with your assistant be scheduled. Its purpose should be explained in advance as a time to discuss her career plans and how she might work more effectively. You should think through what you find positive about her performance and what is negative. And with such pros and cons in mind, prepare a plan for enhancing the pros and reducing the cons. However, don’t present her with such a list. Rather engage her in collaboratively making a plan for improving her communication and performance.

One way to do this is to think together about the goals of your department and the kind of communication that is important to achieving those goals. In simple language that might entail generating do and don’t communication rules, such as:

-Do greet each coworker by her/his first name and a word of encouragement.

-Don’t ask prying questions about family, dating, politics, religion and health. Keep small talk to a minimum.

-Do briefly overview assignments, asking for feedback rather than giving orders.

-Don’t point out mistakes before acknowledging what has been done well.

-Do from time to time converse informally with each worker about her/his career plans and dreams.

-Don’t gossip with about anyone about others and their performance.

-Do converse purposefully in a friendly tone. Avoid raising one’s voice.

-Don’t swear, make suggestive, or discriminatory language with respect to race, national origin, sex, age, religion, disabilities, physical appearance etc.

-Do consult with me about performance and other matters that might call for discipline.

Do these suggestions address your concerns or at least prompt ideas of your own? I am interested in how your interactions with your assistant evolve. It is not a one-stop matter. Most of all what, you want from her and yourself is to think and to act as coaching a team. A plan is formally stating an attitude desired and a process to achieve it. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that means saving face for your assistant and those with whom she works.

William Gorden