This is a great opportunity for you to reflect on your approach to expectation management. As a leader, you have expectations of others – whether it’s that they produce a particular work product with certain quality standards, or whether it’s how they engage with you in a particular way as they do the work. And often you don’t get the behavior or performance you want out of others. Often, in such situations, leaders make assumptions about why – but their assumptions are often wrong.
So, it’s valuable to have a framework in your head for the potential reasons why the employee is not meeting your expectation.
- is your expectation unclear? (e.g. he didn’t know you care about being kept in the loop as you describe)
- Is he somehow blocked from meeting your expectation? (e.g. you’re out of the office at the times when he needs input)
- Does he lack the skills or knowledge to meet your expectation? (e.g. coming to you might involve a difficult conversation that he doesn’t know how to have)
- Does he see it as in his interest to do otherwise? (e.g. he gets more guidance/approval/etc. from the others he approaches)
The problem is, only the employee has the information about which of these reasons is at play. Your most effective approach is to inquire, open-endedly. I suggest a simple exploratory question, aimed at understanding the situation from the employee’s perspective. “I expected X, I observed Y, can you help me understand?”
Some additional guidelines may be relevant.
- It’s most useful to approach this conversation without anger or judgment.
- This is most productive as a dialogue. Be prepared to understand what the employee needs from you differently in order to give you what you need.