Dear Roze:

I consider myself a compassionate, understanding boss but I’m dealing with an employee who is really testing me. She’s been with our company for a few years but was recently transferred to my department. She’s over-the-top sensitive. Her work performance is acceptable but like many employees, there are areas where she could be better. Every time I give her some constructive criticism, the waterworks start to flow. It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. Yes, I’m a guy, but I think a female would find this just as off-putting.

I can understand it if the employee is concerned and even feels anxious when I tell her there are things she needs to improve upon, but crying about it strikes me as so unprofessional. It makes it so I dread giving her any kind of constructive criticism. Some of my colleagues have said, and I’ve actually thought it too, that she has these emotional breakdowns so I won’t address these matters with her and she can do what she wants to do. I’m really having a tough time with this, but it’s my job to make sure I get the best out of my employees. Any suggestions?

Employee’s tears are unnerving

Dear Employee’s tears are unnerving:

Very few people enjoy criticism, but most are receptive to it if it comes from a well-intentioned place and is delivered in an encouraging way. You should not stop giving your employee constructive criticism, but you may want to consider changing your style of delivery. It sounds like you focus entirely on the employee’s deficiencies. Never lose sight of the huge impact and necessity of positive reinforcement.

I am a big proponent of dispensing corrective feedback with affirmation. In other words, before you single out a particular action or behavior you want your employee to change or improve upon, praise her for something she done something very well or for a positive trait she has exhibited.

Be specific with both types of feedback. With the positive feedback, don’t just give a general compliment, identify her specific behavior or trait and the impact it has made. And with the negative feedback, don’t just tell her she is doing something wrong or that she is weak in a particular area, show her the way it should be done or provide her with the necessary information and tools that will enable her to do it better.

I wish you and your employee the best of luck.

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Workplace Woes – Roze Knows®