I’ve not meet many people who like confrontation, but dealing with poor performance must be a part of any leader’s leadership system. When poor performance is ignored it not only hurts the organization but keeps an individual from reaching their fullest potential. Ken Blanchard, in his book The One Minute Manager, calls this a One Minute Reprimand. I prefer to call it a One Minute Redirection. Yes, reprimands are sometimes necessary, but more often than not a leader needs to simply provide redirection rather than a reprimand. So if you have someone struggling with poor performance here are a few things to consider …
- Build a relationship with the individual. I know many leaders advise not to get close to the people you work with but I couldn’t disagree more. Leaders need to know and be known by their direct reports. Please don’t misunderstand, you don’t have to be best friends but there needs to be a sense of knowing each other. This build a sense of trust which is one of the most critical requirements for effective leadership. And trust can only be built when there’s authenticity. I’ve found that it’s actually easier to speak truth to someone I have developed a relationship with than it is with someone I don’t feel like I really know.
- Determine if it’s a Competence, Confidence, or a Commitment problem. Your course of action will be determined by the answer to this question. If it’s a Competence problem then they need you to provide some direction and some coaching. If it’s a Confidence problem then they need you to ask questions and guide them to discovering solutions on their own, thus building their confidence. If it’s a Commitment problem then you may may be dealing with an individual who has a bad attitude and may have to provide a firm reprimand. When you have to provide a reprimand do it immediately, be specific about their behavior and then affirm them as a person and your commitment to their success.
- Always deal with poor performance quickly. Don’t wait until their quarterly or annual review to address the problem. It will be much less awkward and they will appreciate it if you deal with the issue immediately.
Providing constructive feedback can be intimidating for both the direct report as well as the leader but is absolutely necessary if we are to accomplish the overarching goals of the organization.
How do you need to improve in the way you provide constructive feedback?