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31 Oct 2016

Addressing Employee Attendance Issues in 5 Positive Steps

Ironically, addressing employee attendance issues seems a waste of time. They don’t seem to demand much from our skill set. It’s not as though we need to teach a hard skill. One only has to show up on time.

There are positive ways of addressing employee attendance issues that build relationships.

Addressing employee attendance issues is best done by emphasizing relationships not rules.

The 5 Steps Addressing Employee Attendance Issues

Yet, these issues can ignite the fire that ends of burning manager-employee relations. In truth, they can be a path to better ones if addressed positively. To that end, I suggest these five steps:

  1. Venting
  2. Questioning
  3. Building
  4. Asking
  5. Following up

Employees need to vent about their attendance issues. We need to clarify their situation with questions. Once we understand, we build up their importance to their company, department, team, manager and co-workers. Then, we ask them to show up on time. Afterwards, in the next two to three months we periodically follow up. We thank them when they show up on time.

Avoiding Rules, Building Relationships

Unless the employee is a severe repeat offender, we avoid mentioning reprimands and rules. Rules subvert our attempt to make a personal connection. Showing up on time isn’t about rules. It’s about helping others. Relationships are the most powerful force to effect change. We need to tap them.

Here’s how focus on relationships will look to get venting started:

Mike, I want to talk about your recent pattern of lateness and call offs because they are creating problems for me. Is something going on that I should know?

It might look like this when we build up the employee’s value to us:

Mike, I get upset with your attendance because you are a good worker. When you aren’t here I don’t work as well.

Finally, relationships even come up in how we ask. We tie it to us or others:

You: Mike, can I ask you a favor?

Employee: Yes.

You: Well, it would really help me out if you could start showing up on time and stop calling off at the last minute. Could you commit to doing that for me? I would really appreciate your help.

Following Up Employee Attendance Issues

In warfare, victories turn to defeats when there is no follow up. The same holds true in addressing employee attendance issues. Again, we focus on relationships:

Mike, I just want to thank you for your help. I spoke to Suzanne (the employee’s manager), and she said your attendance has been better since we talked. I really appreciate your help on this.

We follow up like this no less than one time in the:

  • First week
  • Next two weeks
  • Next month
  • Next quarter

Of course, this won’t work with every employee. It works with most though. Most want to be helpful. Addressing employee attendance issues isn’t about rules. It’s about relationships. The ones we build on something as mundane as attendance can help us later on more important matters.

In its simplest form, attendance issues are opportunities to build positive relationships . . . if we want them to be.

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