Thursday, April 12, 2012

Zimmerman and the Stanley Cup

"Confrontation is not a dirty word. Sometimes it is the best kind of journalism as long as you don't confront people just for the sake of a confrontation." --- Don Hewitt

The Zimmerman case is obviously tragic. It is difficult to see any good that will come from it from our vantage point. The ripping apart of community it is causing in this part of Florida may take years to heal and will probably get worse before it gets better. The good news is that the 911 released tapes are shedding light on what the difference is between good and bad confrontation, and how far can or should a confrontation go.

Another example of confrontation is in the sporting world. With the Stanley Cup playoffs under way, it is seen as the norm to have two hockey players fighting on the ice. In other words, that could be seen as "good" confrontation, just like in tackling in football and take-downs in amateur wrestling.

But what about in business? Is there such a thing as good confrontation? Can a business leader intentionally invoke confrontation with team members? Is this a healthy management style?

Here are three occasions when the answer to that question is yes:

1.) Confront a team member immediately when it is doubtful that they've been completely honest with you. This is where things get a little slippery. When you discover that an employee is not being completely honest with you, then you should first give them an opportunity to explain. I've always said that if you took the time, money, and energy to hire that person, then you obviously believe they are of good character. Perhaps this instance is a misunderstanding or could even be a lapse in good judgement on the part of the employee. Either way, this calls for good confrontation. Your employee needs to own up to the dishonesty and make things right. Let them know that you believe that their "yes" is their yes and their "no" is their no. They should be using winning words at all times, which includes being honest without having to begin the conversation with "honestly." Do not let this incident just work itself out--- it won't! Address dishonesty the very moment it is discovered.

2.) Confront a team member immediately when you notice that their performance is slipping. Do not excuse this behavior and hope it will get better. The employee needs to own up to why they are not performing up the level you know they are capable of. You may uncover some personal issues or it may be that they are unhappy with a recent act on your part, but didn't want to share it with you. Take time to find out why. If it is a problem at home such as a result of domestic violence, take the time to learn how you can help that person. It is to your benefit as well as theirs to find out and resolve the issue.

3.) Confront a team member immediately when you suspect that they've not been loyal to you or the business by insulting customers or stealing. Both cases are cause for dismissal, but I suggest that you find out the circumstances first so that you can make things right for the customer and take any legal action if needed. Unfortunately, even after doing all the screening, all the background checks, all the reference calling and all the interviews, an employee may still hurt your business by stealing from the company or doing some kind of harm to the business by insulting or somehow scaring customers away. This is a cancer that needs to be dealt with right away. Termination is the only option. Yes, you can try to help this person, but not while they are still employed. Their character flaw is costing you and you should not have to put up with it. After determining what happened, take what legal action is necessary and have this person removed from the business.

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