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Empowerment Systems

"........When Change is the Challenge."

Conscious Evolution

Empowerment Systems Newsletter, #14

Difficult conversations"

Laurie Weiss, Ph.D.

How do you tell an employee that s/he is doing unsatisfactory work? Herb did it badly. Each time his bookkeeper, Sandra, promised to get the new system installed, and didn't, Herb would listen to her reasons (excuses). Then he would repeat how disappointed he was that the new system wasn't up and running and get a new promise of a completion date.

Herb fumed inwardly and complained to me about how he couldn't get the financial information he needed in a timely way. I suggested that he tell her what he would do if the work wasn't done. Sandra looked busy, but the work still dragged on. Finally he told her that if it wasn't completed by the end of the month, she was fired. She finished transferring the data to the new system and produced a report within hours of her deadline.

A week later, Herb was still waiting for the additional reports he needed and Sandra was giving him a new set of excuses. We concluded that he needed to talk to his CPA. In an emergency meeting with his CPA she told Herb that he could send the data to her office electronically, and get all the reports he needed within 24 hours. Herb then fired Sandra and hired a new data entry clerk at a much lower salary. The entire frustrating process took nine months to complete.

Herb wonders if he had made poor business decisions for months because he lacked the data he needed. His CPA told him that Sandra obviously did not understand what she was doing, and that the installation would have been completed in days by a competent person. What if he had given Sandra firm deadlines in the beginning? Would they both have discovered she lacked the skill to do the job? He wished they had, it would have saved both of them a lot of grief.

Herb was afraid to confront Sandra because he did not want to appear unreasonable and because he had no real understanding of her job. We discussed the value of talking to employees (and anyone else) about small dissatisfactions before they grow into unmanageable messes. He believes he will be able to do so. He also plans to get expert help when he does not understand a technical issue well enough to supervise it intelligently.

Coaching tip: People are reluctant to confront others because they imagine the negative consequences of the conversation. They often forget the negative consequences of not having the conversation.


Coaching Tip: Life planning for retirement is just as important as career planning before retirement.


 Copyright 2001, Empowerment Systems. May be transmitted or reproduced in its entirety only, including this copyright line.

Jonathan B. Weiss, Ph.D. and Laurie Weiss, Ph.D. have helped thousands of people make significant changes in their lives. Working together at Empowerment Systems for 29 of their 40 years of marriage, they maintain a coaching, consulting, and psychotherapy practice in Littleton, Colorado, USA.


506 West Davies Way
Littleton · Colorado · 80120
303.794.5408 · Fax
303.794.5379 · Phone
800.594.4594 · Toll-Free
weiss@empowermentsystems.com · E-Mail


"Committed to helping people use all of their inner resources
to create satisfying and fulfilling lives."