We have written about how ineffective and destructive “Come to Jesus Meetings” are – how they inspire fear but don’t solve problems, thus can’t provide lasting change. Trust me on this, because I can call a Come to Jesus Meeting with the best of them.
But I got a strong reminder just this week that there is a better way.
My company had a client service issue where a mistake was made. And I realized as I worked through it that having a “Come to Jesus Meeting” with my team never crossed my mind.
When you know without a doubt that your employees have tremendous integrity and work ethic, and truly care about your clients, you have no desire to dump any of the emotionality of a situation on them. You communicate clearly what happened and the consequences to the company, then you move to problem-solving. In fact, instead of dumping the emotion on your employees, you try your best to support them.
(Dumping doesn’t necessarily mean you are being mean or harsh. Dumping is just passing on the emotion – it might be you gravely explaining the seriousness of the situation and allowing everyone to sit with that, or showing your nervousness about the possible consequences and pleading with them to do better. None of that helps.)
An employee who does care will already feel AWFUL about the mistake and will be nervous to have upset you and the client. You will have to deal with an employee whose confidence is shaken. Your biggest opportunity to be a leader is at this moment.
In this situation, I talked with the client who was upset. I listened, apologized, and expressed that I understood the concern. Then I explained that I wanted to meet with my team and talk with them about what happened and how we can improve our process to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I then spoke to my team, having all the information about what happened and how it happened. I didn’t need to drag them through the emotional experience. I calmly explained what happened, I conveyed the client’s perspective and reason for being upset, and I suggested an adjustment to our process that would greatly reduce the possibility of it happening again. I also asked the employee who was mainly at fault for her suggestions, and I assured her that I believe in her and understand that mistakes happen. I made it clear that I know it was completely unintentional, but that we simply need to constantly look for ways to improve our processes to reduce the possibility of mistakes.
My employee is an adult. I don’t need to burden her with the emotion and “story” of what happened. She is not a child. I don’t need to ask her, “Why did this happen?” It was obviously unintended. She cares about our clients as much as I do. And she has integrity – she will in fact be MORE upset than I could possibly be about making a mistake. My job, as her boss, is to support her, empower her, encourage her and help identify process changes that improve the client experience.
Scared employees make more mistakes. Scared employees don’t share ideas or innovate. Scared employees usually end up leaving you. Don’t scare them – empower them, support them, and encourage them.
And when you have employees with integrity and work ethic, employees who care about how you are helping clients, they WANT to improve. They want to make a difference, and a Come to Jesus Meeting serves no purpose.
Wouldn’t you rather work with a team that focuses on improving?
If you need help with unpacking your current team demographics or where to start with hiring someone contact us for a complimentary Discovery Call to uncover where you may need support with about how we can help you with our Smart Hire Solution™ process at firstname.lastname@example.org.