The Misbehavior Conversation

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My thanks to Larry and CSA for their responses to yesterday’s question about undermining authority.
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Here’s my take.

Undermining authority comes in many flavors. It could be naive behavior, thinking that it is helpful. It could be meddling behavior, a supervisor with nothing more interesting to do. It could be something to prove, disagreement with vision or disagreement with methods. It could be malicious, absolutely intentional as retribution for a past oversight from authority.

Your question leaves out detail, but your next move is the same no matter how unintentional or down-right mean and nasty the motive.

Your next move is a conversation and the sooner, the better. This is the Misbehavior Conversation.

If you want to fire the guy, you don’t need my help, so I assume you want the behavior to improve. You will need a quiet place. Here are the elements and the time frames for each step.

Observation. Describe specifically, without judgment, what you have observed. Be a reporter, no emotion, no opinion, just the facts. (10 seconds).

Impact. Describe the impact this is having on the team, the department, the company, the customer. (10 seconds).

Your contribution to the problem. (Yes, you have to assume some responsibility in this problem). As his manager, it is likely you were not clear when you created the roles and responsibilities. You likely have seen this behavior for some time, but you haven’t said anything, hoping that the behavior would go away. If you’ve kept quiet, then you have given permission. (10 seconds).

What’s at stake. There are many stakeholders who have some skin in this game. It is not just this supervisor and one or two people. Your customer is the biggest stakeholder. (10 seconds).

Consequences if no change. Do not forget this step. If there are no consequences, then I don’t know why you are having this conversation. (10 seconds).

Your wish to resolve. Tell this supervisor that your intention is for things to improve. (5 seconds).

Ask for a plan to correct the behavior. (5 seconds). Don’t fall for the trap of telling this supervisor what must be done. The plan for improvement must come from his lips. So shut up and listen. (10 minutes).

Agreement on follow-up. This is an appointment to check on progress. Get your calendar and set a specific time, within seven days of this conversation.

This is not a long conversation. You will notice that you only get to talk for one minute compared to ten minutes for the other person. Note the solution to the problem must come from the other person. The most important skill is listening and asking questions. -TF

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