Three Simple Steps to Leading, Pt 3

September 4, 2009 - Mac Lake - Leadership

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?

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Mac Lake


My passion is multiplying multipliers

5 responses to Three Simple Steps to Leading, Pt 3

  1. I am a big advocate for the last point. The quicker the sinking anchor is dealt with the sooner the success ship can set sale!

    Great post

  2. can you explain what is the direct report?

  3. What if the individual disagrees, but it is clear to several? They think your opinion is wrong.

  4. Hey Robert,

    Thanks for the question. A direct report is anyone who reports directly to me. For example I have 4 people who report to me (direct reports) but 2 of those people have people that report to them. So when I do goal setting I only do it with my 4…they have to in turn do goal setting with anyone that reports to them. I used the word direct report instead of employee because you can actually use this leadership system with volunteers as well as employees. I used this approach with my 7 key volunteer leaders when I was a church planter.
    Thanks so much for your faithful readership, may God bless your leadership as you serve Him,

  5. Hey Mike,

    yes that is a tough situation. Hopefully when the direct report writes his goals, those performance standards are discussed and agreed upon by both the DR and the Leader. But when the leader gives feedback the DR disagrees with then it could be one of several issues…
    1. A misunderstanding of what good performacne was supposed to look like…then you must talk and re-establish clarity in regard to the goal and results you are looking for.
    2. A poor attitude by the DR. Sometimes an individual will disagree just to be stubborn or because of pride. Their image becomes more important than the overall kingdom results. In this case the only option is to talk to them, let them know how you feel about their performance, be directive and let them know what you expect from here on out. They may not like it but as the leader you have the right to correct their direction even if they dont agree. Just make sure you are really clear about expectations. I had this a while back, had to write out expectations with timelines, meet once a week for clarification. It did not end well..we never could see eye to eye…this individual refused to accept my analysis (and others analysis) of their performance.
    3. Sometimes they dont see it the way we see it because of a values difference. If they have different values than us as the leader then it can cause tension. For ex: A worship leader values “participation” so they will let a poor singer on stage. The pastor values “excellence” and says do not let poor singers on stage. That value tension between the two is not likely to change. In this case the Worship guy needs to find somewhere his values can be expressed and he can be true to his convictions.

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