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I want to know what the following management technique is which seems to be used by company managers.

Say there is an employee in a company who hadn’t performed well during the year. After a couple of reviews the management decides to give him the final warning. So in the review, the managers continuously criticise the employee for his low performance and tell him that they will monitor him for the next 4 weeks for his progress.

Say there are 3 managers. Amongst the managers there is a good guy who shows some sympathy to the employee and he keeps silence during the review but later tries to talk to the employee personally. He would ask about the problems and difficulties etc.

On the next day one manager who was angry in the review talks to the employee nicely and says sorry for his harsh words and asks the employee to improve his performance in a friendly manner. On the same day the good guy gives the employee a plan to follow to over come his problems and improve his performance during the 4 weeks.

Is this a well known management technique? Please give me some insight.

Thanks

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    Have you noticed that this chain of events happens so regularly that there must be a method behind it or was this a one-time event? – Philipp Apr 4 '14 at 12:48
  • It was a one time event. I just wondered if that's some sort of a technique. It never worked and people who knew about this interview were disappointed. – Jeewantha Apr 9 '14 at 12:52
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This doesn't sound like any sort of technique to me. It sounds like a poorly prepared panel of managers in this final review.

It also shows how psychologically difficult it is for managers to deal with employees who don't perform as well as they need to.

The panel members should have, during their preparation for this interview, gotten past their anger. They should have boiled down their criticism to three or four key points.

In the interview they should have stated their points clearly and mildly. Then they should have stated the performance criteria they expect, and the time allowed to correct the poor performance.

Finally, they should have asked, "Are there any questions? Is there anything we don't know that should know?"

The positive things did happen, but afterwards. The so-called "good guy" presented the performance criteria, and the "bad guy" apologized for his nastiness. It would have been better if the plan had been presented during the interview. It also would have been better if the nastiness had not happened, but it did.

If this were my employee, I would not invite other line managers to this meeting. I would have a single human-resources rep there as a witness, and myself. One of us would do the talking. If other managers' input were needed, I would gather it ahead of time.

This kind of interview is very difficult to prepare for. If a manager cares about the employees and the company's mission, she is in a difficult position when promising to fire somebody unless they shape up. It's unpleasant -- maybe even physically painful -- to threaten to take away a person's livelihood. It's also unpleasant to have a poorly performing employee: the work isn't getting done properly, and possibly the other employees are annoyed.

As a manager I know I have been tempted to use anger ("you lazy fool! get back to work! you're making my team look like idiots!") to try to mask my pain in this kind of situation. It's natural to be angry when this sort of thing happens. But believing you must be angry to exert good discipline is not true, and is destructive.

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