Last updated May 5, 2020
Whether it is a member of staff, a trustee or a volunteer – the longer you allow bad behaviour to continue, the harder it is to address. This 4-step process is a great way to have difficult conversations about challenging behaviour.
Step 1: Pull the Person Aside for a Private Conversation It’s important that any bad behaviour is addressed out of view from others. Shaming someone in front of the team is inappropriate and will not create the outcome you require.
Step 2: State the Recent Behaviour You Have Observed This is not a lecture or a chance to let off steam. Simply state the behaviour you have noticed in 25 words or less. Keep a conversational tone and use “I” statements eg. I noticed that you were 20 minutes late to work this morning.
Step 3: Wait for a Response Too often we feel uncomfortable in silence and rush to fill the gap. As a result, we can excuse or explain away the behaviour on the person’s behalf. It is important that once you have stated the behaviour, you remain silent and wait for their response – no matter how long it takes.
Step 4: Re-Set their Behaviour Just as you clearly stated the behaviour in step 2, now is your opportunity to re-set their behaviour by telling them precisely what you expect. Once again, keep the statement short (less than 25 words) and use “I” statements eg. I expect you to turn up to work on time from now on.
This should be the end of the conversation, but what if they make an excuse for their behaviour? Start with “That may be the case, however…” and then simply reiterate the behaviour that is expected eg. That may be the case, however I expect you to turn up to work on time from now on. If they start pointing out the bad behaviour of others, start with “That may be case, but it is your behaviour I am addressing at the moment…” and then reiterate the behaviour that is expected.
What if they keep doing it? Use the same technique, but state the pattern that is occurring. eg. I spoke to you last month about turning up for work on time, I notice that you were 20 minutes late to work again this morning.
What if they still keep doing it? Use the same technique, but state that the pattern is affecting your relationship. eg. I spoke to you last month about your pattern of arriving at work late. It is making it hard for me to see you as a reliable member of staff.
In many cases, this process of ‘calling out’ bad behaviour is enough to put it back on track. If you are consistent in calling it out, eventually the person will either change their behaviour, or get so sick of it being addressed that they will leave of their own accord. The key is being consistently persistent.
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