One of the greatest management tools a doctor or office manager can have in his/her HR arsenal is the Progressive Corrective Coaching (PCC) technique. PCC not only works in your favor by communicating clear, but fair, expectations and goals to your employees, it also ensures all corrective communications with your employees are documented should you need that later. The steps of PCC do NOT need to be taken in order.
The 5 Steps of Progressive Corrective Coaching are:
1. Establish Initial Expectations. This step is important and must be done with each and every employee at the beginning of their employment, or when the Progressive Coaching Program is adopted by the business. You accomplish this with an updated and professionally drafted Employee Handbook, Job Descriptions, Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy, and by providing regular feedback.
2. Verbal Coaching/Warning. This is the first step in the actual coaching itself and the employee should expect almost immediate verbal coaching from the office manager when his/her performance falls short of your expectations. Office Managers should notate in the record that the verbal warning was given, but the employee does not need to review or sign any documentation.
3. Written Coaching/Warning. The move to a written coaching/warning provides an element of formality and clarity by having written documentation of the issues to be addressed, the impact of the performance problems, and the expected correction he/she must make. It also creates the critical legal record you need to establish the legitimacy of your actions, now and in the future. Employees are expected to sign the Corrective Action Form, indicating not necessarily that he/she agrees, but that he/she has received the coaching.
4. Final Written Warning. This is the same as Step 3 above, except it contains a notice that without sufficient improvement or correction, the employment relationship is likely to be terminated. If the behavior necessitates an investigation to determine who or whether the conduct occurred, this step may be accompanied by a suspension.
5. Termination. The final step, and sometimes an immediate action that must be taken where there is gross misconduct, is termination of employment. This step requires an assessment of the risks, including whether the employee is in a protected class, or has participated in protected activity, and what other documentation exists to support the lawful reasons for the termination. The employee should be given a written termination letter, giving a reason for the termination.
Another technique you can use in combination with PCC is called the FIRR Formula.
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 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.
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…”
With a clear plan and a little practice, you can master the art of conflict resolution and get your employees to respond positively and act on your feedback without resentment or defensiveness. 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.
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