If you have contact with others (and most do), maybe one or two of these situations sounds familiar. The clock is ticking on a project and your vendor missed the deadline, again. Your brother said he would sub for you on the bowling league this week, but he didn’t show, and your team lost points in the league standings. You thought you hired the perfect person to complete your project. The deadline is 12 weeks away. Now six weeks later the project is in chaos and nowhere near finished. We know it is human nature; sometimes people fail to follow through with their commitments. The first time it happens, we may over look it. When the behavior repeats itself over and over and over again, we need to take action. The first option may be to end the relationship with this person. The second is to confront the individual and produce a change in your future interactions. If the relationship is worth your investment of time and energy to improve upcoming exchanges, use the PLANNED constructive confrontation model outlined here.
Prepare yourself. Gather data and documents you need to review with the individual. Think through the interaction; see yourself conducting a successful and meaningful conversation with the person to resolve the issue. You are not looking for the admission of guilt – both parties are at fault. You want to reach agreement on performance expectations. Visualize the conversation going smoothly, without raised angry voices, tears or other emotional outbursts.
Limit your opening statement to a description of their behavior. Don’t begin by asking a question (What do you think you’re doing?) Instead, describe what you have observed. (Harold, you’ve missed the last three deadlines for your part of the project.)
Acknowledge the effect their behavior is having on you, the team, the department or the entire company. (The deadline with our client is this Friday. If the work is not finished, the entire project will be in jeopardy.)
Name the change that needs to take place. (I need the reports on my desk by 3:00 p.m. If you are not able to complete the task, I need to know about it so we can work something out.) Be quiet and wait for their response.
Name the consequence. Identify what will happen if the agreed upon change does not take place. Just like physics, where every action has an equal and opposite re-action, every behavior has a consequence. Create clear expectations, time lines and benchmarks. Schedule a follow-up meeting and keep the meeting. If you expect the other person to follow-though, you must as well.
Evaluate the meeting. Did the conversation go as planned? What will you do differently in the future?
Do seek professional help. If using this method doesn’t produce a change in the person’s behavior, it may be time to enlist the help of a consultant, coach or counselor.
Your goal is to produce a result that meets your needs and preserves the relationship. The PLANNED method may not create excitement around the opportunity you have in confronting the situation, but it will give you a guide to make the process go as smoothly as possible.