Situation 23: DISENGAGED

After the career discussion with Mansy, Mian is disengaged, demotivated and underperforming. This affects team performance and makes her the focus of office gossip.

(Click on the pictures to see them in full size)

A great leader:

  • Subordinate (Mian):
    • Acts in a professional manner at all times and works to foster a positive work environment within the team;
    • Consistently produces results and meets all goals & targets;
    • Is self-aware and expresses her feelings and needs in a specific, composed and respectful way.
  • Manager (Mansy):
    • Does not allow problems to fester;
    • Addresses performance issues firmly and in a timely manner;
    • Spends the extra effort to understand employee’s intentions, needs and motivations.

How to best handle the situation:

As a manager Mansy is responsible for the performance of his entire team. If he lets the lack of performance of Mian unaddressed, he is being unfair to everyone else on the team. It is his responsibility to address any individual issues that are affecting the team’s performance or morale.

Managers who excel in confronting direct reports are timely, consistent, focus on performance gaps, pitch in and help the person succeed, and are sensitive to how the person feels.

In the learning suggestions you’ll find guidelines for how to have a corrective conversation.

In almost all companies a lot of noise comes from sharing views of others in the wrong settings and with the wrong people. Play it safe and don’t say anything about colleagues that you would not say directly to them. Whispering behind backs is one of the fastest ways to hurt one person’s credibility: Yours!

Learning suggestions:

  • Corrective feedback guidelines:
    • Step 1: Start the meeting by stating the purpose of the conversation;
    • Step 2: Emphasize mutual goals and shared values (“we both want what is best for the company and the team”);
    • Step 3: Provide clear and precise feedback about his/her behaviour and/or lack of performance and the impact it has on yourself and the team
    • Step 4: Practice empathy to temper stress (ask for a response: “What is your understanding of what has been happening?”);
    • Step 5: Validate that you are both on the same page by testing assumptions (paraphrase your understanding of the employees feelings, determine and acknowledge what has relevance to the situation and what is a diversion);
    • Step 6: Discuss specific consequences: the employee should be told the specific consequences of failing to improve his/her behaviour or performance. The consequences should be put in writing;
    • Step 7: Agree on the way forward and offer the right support. Emphasize that you need the employee to communicate wit you on issues that aren’t resolved or when help is needed
    • Step 8: Deconstruct the conversation after stepping away (did s(h)e get it?, did I listen to his/her perspective?)
  • Form a sparring relationship with a supportive colleague or external party and practice having “difficult conversations” with him/her. Get feedback on what you do well and areas where you need to improve;
  • Attend a Conflict Resolution Training Program;
  • Gossiping:
    • Never share any negative information about another person unless it is a formal evaluation process in the organization.
    • Be careful what you say “in confidence”. Most things said in confidence will get out, usually starting with: “I am not supposed to say anything, but….”
    • Understand why you feel rivalry with your female colleagues;
    • When you find yourself complaining about a woman not being nice enough, ask yourself if you would say the same of a man who exhibited similar behaviors;
    • Make an active decision now to be less critical of other women and to never get involved in discussions about things like physical appearance or manner of dress when analyzing their work and/or competencies.


Women are usually taking things more personal than men. The silent treatment, withholding information or passive aggression are some ways how women act when they feel offended. How do you react when you are upset?

Femcommunity tips

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.


Read more about Co-Colours and Co-Colours Team.


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