“Actions speak louder than words.”
At some point in our lives (and sometimes even more than once), we’ve heard this little gem of wisdom. And when it comes to conflict resolution, it’s very often true.

In the last Two-Minute Trainer, we discussed the 5 Steps of Progressive Corrective Coaching confrontation technique for the conflict avoidant. In this week’s trainer, we will discuss the FIRR Formula, which can be used effectively in combination with PCC.

Telling your employees what you expect of them shows you believe in their abilities. Not giving employees the chance to self-correct shows you aren’t sure if they’re capable. For your corrective coaching to work, it’s essential that you believe it can work. Employees sense dishonesty a mile away. When going in the meeting, set the tone by establishing the reason for the meeting as an opportunity to resolve the conflict (i.e., between two employees or between what you are expecting and their actual performance). If you haven’t been doing corrective actions, make sure the employee knows this is a new policy that you plan to use with all employees, to foster better performance and clearer communication.

The following FIRR Formula is a great way to map out your conversation:

Facts are behaviors that you can see or hear. Opinions cause people to go into defensive mode. Using only facts reduces the chance your employee will disagree, get defensive, or resentful of your efforts.

Impact is the result of the fact(s). This can be anything that directly affects the business, such as decreased production, undermining your or another’s authority, causing resentment or discomfort in other employees, and more.

Reason and Respect is where you express that you believe the employee didn’t have bad intentions, and that you believe the employee is capable of the action you will request. Here, you want to be assertive, not aggressive, and model the professional tone you expect from the employee.

Request is what specific and measurable action that you want the employee to take.

Download our FIRR Formula Manager’s Guide HERE for some common employee complaints and examples of some appropriate responses you can use.

There are 2 critical words that must be avoided if you want to reduce the defense reaction: but and however. When you use either of these words, you are negating whatever you said before them. For example, “I know you didn’t mean to be late, but …” Or, “I know you weren’t trying to hurt Susie’s feelings, however…”

“But what about using positive feedback to soften the blow?”

Generally, you’ll want to avoid the sandwich method of positive-negative-positive when giving feedback and making requests. This model nearly forces you to use “but” or “however.” For example, “You’re doing a great job on…, but, I need you to…” When you use this method, employees know that after the positive comes the negative, putting them on the defensive, and telling them not to trust the positive feedback.

For best results, give positive feedback on its own. Use the FIRR method when you want to request a different behavior. Avoid the words but & however. And give the employee the chance to express their point of view, or ask him/ her for input on how the conflict can be resolved to reach a “win-win” scenario.

Remember, your employees want to do a great job and get positive feedback. Your job is guiding them with specific and measurable expectations. Overall, the more comfortable you are in giving feedback, both positive and negative, the more comfortable your employees will be with receiving it.

Congratulations! You’re ready to tackle any employee problem in your office! If you have any questions about the techniques mentioned above, or just want advice on a specific situation, call our HR experts anytime at (866) 414-6056.

That’s your Two-Minute Trainer! Now, go have a productive, harmonious, and lawsuit-free day!