Sheesh I am not sure where we got the idea that respect for people means we all stand around and sing Kumbaya! It certainly does not mean that you are unable to address performance issues! Here are a few statements from Toyota about respect-
-“We respect people by challenging them.” (giving people legitimate challenges to improve and use their thinking and ability to make the process better). People like challenges, but they also like to succeed and the reward of success is sweet.
-“Respect does not mean that we pamper or coddle people. Living the Toyota way of life is difficult.” (paraphrase Mr. Cho)
Toyota does not make apologies that the work is challenging and difficult.
I want to keep this short so I will go into how we were coached to address performance issues (or “attitude” issues).
First off the issues needs to be addressed specifically. So in a one on one conversation we begin with a GENUINE compliment of something the person does well or a talent, ability, whatever. If you look you can find SOMETHING good in everyone.
Follow that with the famous BUT…. (I prefer however, or some other segue) and then discuss the specific concern “I feel that when you are faced with a new situation you are passive aggressive about it and bad mouth the issue with others”) This is the HARD part. I don’t think anyone likes to be so direct, but you absolutely need to be. And it is not about you personally (“I don’t like the way you act” for example is not a good statement).
At this point they may share with you some of their concerns and what you need to do is just hear them. Do not become defensive (like you are saying they are!). Just say “I understand what you are saying.” They may have some legitimate concerns (most often they do) and you can say you will address them.
Then we follow with what we need or expect from the individual. “I need you to bring your concerns to me privately if you do not want to share them in the meetings. If you disagree that is ok, but I don’t want you to do it outside the meetings.” In cases of performance issues we also ask the person to develop a plan as to how they will address the issue(s). The person should always be a part of their own problem.
Side bar- often this person is the one we called the “unofficial leader” meaning they had influence with people but were not in the leadership role. So their negativity was influencing others.
Then we let them know what we are willing to do to help them. “I am open to your concerns and I want to make sure you are heard so please come to me” or something like that. Or if there is a specific thing you know of they want help with. And we ask if there is anything else they need from us to help with the situation. Perhaps you explain that if you observe the behavior you will bring it to their attention at that time (during a meeting they attack an idea you say “Ok let’s not attack this idea. How about if you and I talk about this later so that I can understand what you are concerned about.”)
In the end if this does not work you repeat at least once and TRY to see if there is ANY improvement at all and not that. Keep in mind a tiger does not change it’s stripes (but can learn to modify behavior). Just think about how difficult it is to learn new “lean” behaviors!
Finally in some cases a person needs to get off the bus (Refer to Jim Collins). One thing in Japan they do not really fire people so much as make it undesirable to work there so a person wants to leave. In other words crummy assignments etc. So respect does not mean that the individual can do whatever they want or be however they want. There are expectations of performance and behavior and if a person can not meet those it is the leaders responsibility to address them.