Do You Confront Poor Performance?

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One of the most difficult, yet necessary, responsibilities of a leader is to provide proper correction to her team.

Confronting poor performance is not pleasant. Unfortunately, our training in healthy confrontation methods probably came at the hands of a leader who was also not trained to properly confront. We aren't born with a genetic code to help us handle poor performance within our teams. Often, the path of least resistance is the path most traveled.

I still remember Ken Blanchard's One Minute Manager and highly recommend it to new managers. Blanchard's system for performance improvement is simple and effective:

  • Praise in public, correct in private (why do so many leaders have this backwards?)
  • Surround a corrective statement with several positive statements. I've always tried to use the Whopper formula—bread, bread, meat, bread, bread. Positive, positive, improve this, positive, positive.
  • Coach back to goals. Use questions. 

Manager: What is our goal (or standard) for cleaning tables after a guest leaves our restaurant?

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Team Member: To bus a table within 90 seconds of a guest leaving the table.

Mgr: What do you see in the dining room?

Team: A lot of messy tables.

Mgr: What needs to happen for us to achieve our goal?

While this discussion may appear to be simplistic, the fact is, we need to have more simplistic discussions with our team relative to goal achievement. Maintaining standards is an important marker for goal achievement. Repeat the goals. Repeat expectations. Confront with questions.

Another example—Is it better to accept the fact that our staff is not sending follow-up notes to visitors or is it better to have a coaching session:

Pastor: What is our goal for sending follow-up notes to visitors?

Staff: We want a note in their mailbox by the Wednesday after their visit.

Pastor: When is the last time we mailed visitor notes?

Staff: I don't remember the last time we sent a card.

Pastor:  Did the goal change?

Staff: No.

Pastor: What needs to happen for us to achieve our goal?

I think we would all agree this exchange was confrontational. But it wasn't mean spirited, humiliating or fault finding. The volume of the leader will not change the answers of the team member. Passive aggression won't bring us a step closer to the goal. Confront the issue with two powerful questions: "What is our goal" and "what needs to happen to achieve our goal?"

Effective leaders are soft on people but tough on standards.

"Then Jesus answered, 'O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.' Jesus rebuked the demon, and he came out of him. And the child was healed instantly" (Matt 17:17-18).

Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, Love Leads.

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Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.

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