Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Separating Person and Behavior

One of the hardest things for managers, especially inexperienced ones, to do in a Christian organization is to call out unacceptable behavior. Doing so can cause conflict or hurt feelings and we are taught as Christians to be kind. Working oftentimes in small work groups, offending one of your staff can mean having 1/3 of your workforce mad at you.

For that reason two things often happen: either the manager doesn't address the behavior at all or does so with so much positive "spin" that the corrective message doesn't get through. In either case two bad things happen. In the short term the behavior gets worse, and in the long term the manager gets fed up and wants to terminate the individual who may not understand what they did wrong.

Ken Blanchard, in the old "One Minute Manager" series explained how to do this well. He spoke of separating the individual from their behavior: loving and supporting the person but not tolerating what they did. It is the difference between, for instance, "You are a gossip" and, "You need to stop gossiping." By addressing what a person does, while expressing support for the person themselves, you can have even very difficult conversations candidly and without leaving bruises.

The approach works well in a Christian organization because it has the biblical basis of, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." It can also be used between peers and family members and is not just a tactic for managers. It is ultimately more honest and ethical to deal with issues straight-on, but in a loving and supportive manner, than to let things go until frustration boils over.

No comments: