Dealing with firing or correcting an employee can be nerve-wracking. For women entrepreneurs who value relationships within the company, the mere thought of correcting employees can be paralyzing. But by implementing systems in your business and embracing the mindset of being a boss, these conversations can become much less emotionally charged.
Women have, for the most part, been raised and socialized to be nice, which can be a real detriment when it comes to addressing employee problems. I spoke with women’s business coach and mentor Candace Avila about this issue. She said, ”Women don’t need to be a b*tch to be successful but if you were raised to be a pleaser than it takes work to become an assertive woman who is not afraid to have those tough conversations.”
Most women are highly relational and hire employees they like, further complicating the employer-employee dynamic. When it comes to giving assignments in the course of conversation, decisions often flow organically, leaving room for miscommunication. Later, when you must address problems, perhaps the biggest frustration stems from “I said, you said” arguments regarding the requests made.
But putting in the effort to build a team is only effective if the tasks and projects assigned are actually executed. Otherwise, it’s a waste of your time, investment and energy, and many women entrepreneurs would rather re-do the job themselves than address the problem with their employee. By avoiding the opportunity to correct your employees, your business growth will stall; as the owner, you’ll become resentful and frustrated as problems continue.
Establishing business processes to address employee correction will make such conversations easier and limit future mistakes. These systems will allow your team to continue supporting the business without your constant oversight. It’s critically important to document how things are done and by whom. Here are 3 steps you can use today to limit mistakes and make employee correction easier:
- Make specific requests. Clarify your expectations and requests at every opportunity by rephrasing those conversational talks into directives. Instead of saying, “We should have the new Web page up by next week, yes?” try, “I expect you to finish the new Web page by Monday, with these items completed, and give it to me for final approval so we can go live Wednesday.” Avila recommends using “I expect” in your requests to leave no room for ambiguity, and suggests women use language that is not wishy-washy or easily misinterpreted.
- Record your expectations. While clear requests are a good start, you can still fall into “I said, you said” possibility if the task was interpreted differently than you intended. Instead of searching through audio recordings, meeting notes or emails, use project management software to assign and track tasks and deliverables like Basecamp or my personal favorite, Asana. This system of assigning allows the employees to ask clarifying questions, give updates and request more information. It also gives you a point of reference if there is a problem later on.
- Address problems with facts. Even the best systems and clearest explanations are apt to some level of error, whether intentional or due to neglect. When it comes time to address mistakes or changes with your team, Avila recommends framing those difficult conversations with action steps: “This is what you need to stop doing — [action step] — and here is what you need to start doing — [action step].” By focusing on facts instead of feelings, you can keep some of the emotional charge out of the conversation. There should be no ambiguity around the action and results expected when you refer back to the initial request and show documentation. Furthermore, by seeing that the request was clear, the expectation was documented and instruction was given, you’ll be able to more accurately identify the team members who are genuinely incompetent from those who simply misunderstood you.
With these steps, women entrepreneurs can become empowered to make specific requests and a point of reference for any corrections. While it can be difficult to put on the boss pants, this strategy can make such conversations easier to approach.
Kelly Azevedo is the founder of She’s Got Systems, a custom coaching program that leads clients to get support, documenting and dominating in their fields. She has worked in successful six-figure and million-dollar online businesses, helping owners create the systems to serve their startup needs.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.