Pre-Emptive Strike Leadership: Dealing With Triggered Employees

When it comes to dealing with employee behavior, organizations are still in the era of being responsive rather than being proactive.  It will only be at the point where a problem with an employee surfaces that the manager or executive will take note.  The manager or executive almost never spend any time in advance addressing the early indications that a problem is taking root, nor do they identify previous patterns of negative employee behavior in a department or across the organization.  It is always a matter of dealing with the individual once they can no longer be ignored.  

Consider that management and HR responses to negative behavior among employees are often short-sighted and lack any deep thinking or conversations with the employee about why they are behaving the way they are (because there are no resources available or structures in place that would assist them to have such conversations). Add to this the common organizational culture of dismissing problematic employees with simplistic labels such as “lazy”, “not team players”, “troublesome” or “selfish”.  These are all ways of placing the blame on the flawed character of the employee who does not merit the time or resources for a deeper exploration of what may be going on.  It also betrays the organization’s contempt for employees who have anything going on in their lives that might interfere with their job performance, and their willful blindness around triggers that may be coming from the organization and leadership team.  

 When it comes to dealing with the behavior, most organizations engage with their employees in a punitive way. Almost all organizations respond in similar ways, including: 

·       Management and HR meeting with the employee(s) to scold them and instruct them to stop misbehaving.  

·       After several verbal discussions, HR will then go to the Policies and Procedures Handbook and start “writing up” the employee for their actions.  

·       If the employee is still acting out, then the infamous “Performance Improvement Plan” aka “PIP” gets rolled out.  (When an employee is put on a PIP, that is a red flag moment indicating that HR is setting a path to dehire the employee).  Many of these PIPs have obligations and targets that even the most steadfast employee would have a hard time meeting.

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