People have often seen the relationship between the “good cop” and the “bad cop” in a variety of situations. Does this dichotomy exist in your office? Although the size of your team as a small business owner may be modest, this tactical approach is not a bad thing to utilize when difficult conversations need to be had. When this occurs, the question is not if, not when, but who. Who is responsible to send a red flag to a struggling employee that something needs to change? Is it you, as the owner? Should the office manager take care of it? Maybe an HR employee. You might think, it’s the business owner for sure! But wait, does it have to be?
You’re familiar with the all-too-common scene of a bad cop taking a victim into a room and yelling, “Tell me what you did!” The victim keeps his mouth shut during this exchange only to spill the truth after the bad cop leaves and the good cop steps in and says, “you know what, let’s just talk.” Not that you want to throw anyone under the bus, but it would be nice to have an HR person wear the bad cop hat so you, as the business owner, can remain the good cop—the person your employees want to talk to who believes in them and wants them to succeed.
There may be some employees you never need to have a difficult conversation with. On the other hand, you might have a new staff member showing signs that things might not work out. Sometimes you can tell when there’s a red flag, and sometimes those red flags go away. Your best employee could have had the rockiest start. If you do need to step in, have them tell you about the issues they are facing, considering the fact that they usually know if there’s a problem. Ask questions like, “How do you think things are going? What is going well? What are you struggling with?” Don’t shy away from saying you’ve noticed those same struggles. Be willing to vocalize your own thoughts and feelings, your desire to help them improve, and what that might look like. They most likely will articulate what needs to change. These conversations may not be the most comfortable you’ll ever have, but they can be serious, professional, and friendly—and lead to lasting change.
In your office, who’s the good cop? Who’s the bad cop? What approaches are you taking to help move your business forward? Ultimately, having a good cop/bad cop situation is an effective approach to keeping the channels of your business clear. This way, everyone in your office can confidently move forward while feeling supported and on the same page, and you will better progress in creating consistent and quality value.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: