Not every day runs smoothly. There are days when mistakes are made, customers aren’t treated well and performance is not up to standard. Without a doubt, something needs to be done about these situations; but using the wrong correction technique may do more harm than help.
Recently a client and I were discussing a performance problem. Near the conclusion of the conversation, my client said, “My boss told me I was a good manager and was doing things well, BUT if I would just try a little harder I could be an excellent manager.”
So I said, “Your boss essentially gave you a compliment and then a verbal slap. And how did you leave the meeting?”
The response, “That I wasn’t doing enough.”
Everyone needs praise; everyone needs correction. However, it is rarely wise to mix praise and correction during the same meeting. Let’s think about it. A person who has high internal motivation for success will invariably consider the compliments as a pretext for the correction and leave feeling they’re falling short and that the boss is not pleased (no matter how hard the boss says otherwise). The excuse-maker will almost always downplay the correction and focus on all they’re doing well. Nobody wins.
What’s the “good boss” to do? If a compliment is deserved, give a compliment and leave it at that. If a correction is necessary, deliver the correction at a separate time. This way the person being complimented won’t become confused by the addition of some form of correction. The only exception is in an emergency. (Ask us for a free copy of our Coach’s Notes form for assistance.)
Here are some other things for consideration if you’re the boss.
- Always calm down before meeting.
- Make sure the problem isn’t a systemic issue.
- Focus on the problem and not the person. (Some examples: Shannon, the letter sent out Friday had five typos. Our clients expect better. How may this be corrected in the future?)
- Be specific when praising. (“Dmitry, you handled that challenging customer issue very well Saturday. You asked great follow up questions; the customer felt you heard him; and, as a result you got to the core issue which was very simple for us to resolve. Great job!”
- Don’t send conflicting messages – a compliment followed by a “verbal slap”.
When you have people issues in your business always think Executive Advantage. We’re the people experts. Reach out to us below, or call us!