“What do you mean – No surprises?” Rachel quizzed. “My team member must know that this conversation is coming. Everyone is constantly correcting his mistakes, making him do re-work.”
“So, you want to keep him guessing? You see, surprise works both ways. As his manager, you are surprised when he under-performs, fails to meet a deadline or turns in work with mistakes. What happens to your trust, when you, as a manager, are Surprised?”
“The trust level goes down,” Rachel replied. “It’s at the point now, where there is almost no trust at all.”
“So, as the manager, you are surprised when your team member fails to meet a deadline, and your team member is going to be surprised when you have an accountability conversation with him?”
Rachel nodded, silently, her eyes darting back in her brain. Finally, she spoke. “And we don’t trust each other. So, how do I prevent surprises when I go into this accountability conversation?”
“Pretty simple, really. No surprises, no ambushes. When you schedule the conversation, tell him the subject of the conversation will be about his current performance on the Phoenix project and the improvements we need going forward.”
The blood was draining from Rachel’s face. The truth does that, sometimes.