August 2009

Shannon Wells

Better Business | by Neil Ducoff


When You Have to Be a Boss

You’re getting ready to do a performance evaluation with a key employee.

There have been behavior and performance issues that have surfaced a while back that you had hoped were temporary and would just fade away. But, as they often do, the issues continued and now they are beginning to impact other members of your team.

You know this employee is highly sensitive to constructive feedback and the process often produces all kinds of drama, emotions and funk. Because of this, getting into the tough stuff with this employee always produces a knot in your stomach.

So, the evaluation begins. You navigate through the process until you reach that point where all that remains is the tough stuff. You feel like you’ve cornered a wild beast and you’re just trying to find the best moment and angle to capture it without getting mauled.

And then it happens — you ask the employee if she has any questions and you end the evaluation. You hesitated. You left essential things unsaid. You wimped out. You compromised.

This scenario gets played out in business every day. You see behavior and performance issues and for some reason, you just fail to engage. Interestingly, it only occurs with certain individuals when your pre-conceived mental picture of the process and the immediate fallout cranks up your anxiety levels high enough to hit the compromise button. To make matters worse, you beat yourself up for missing the opportunity to address a growing problem that will only continue to escalate.

Here are some red-hot strategies to ensure that you leave nothing unsaid:

One of the most challenging aspects of being a no-compromise leader is the ability to engage in open and constructive dialog with employees on behavior and performance issues — and to do so when the issues surface. Hesitate today and you’ll just have a bigger problem tomorrow.

Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the salon and spa industry. He’s author of Fast Forward, and a new book, No-Compromise Leadership, published by DC Press and is available at For more information go to You can email Neil at