Let Employees Solve Their Own Performance Problems
By Eric Harvey and Paul Sims,
Adapted from DDI's Managing Employee Motivations
One of your team members has a performance problem. So, you meet with him or her to discuss the issue. You describe the problem and ask for an explanation. Then, you come face to face with an all-too- common trap: Telling the person what he or she needs to do to solve the problem. DON’T GO THERE!
Granted, you probably have good ideas about what works and how to accomplish expectations. Keep in mind, however, that it’s the employee’s responsibility to resolve the problem – not yours. Your job is to facilitate the discussion so that the person understands the problem and is given an opportunity to correct it. Be prepared to offer suggestions if asked, but give the employee a chance to come up with his or her own solutions.
Why do it that way? The answer is simple: Ownership!
People tend to work harder for their own ideas. Solutions they participate in developing become commitments that are much more likely to yield quick and permanent results.You can guide the employee in identifying solutions by asking three simple questions:
1. What specifically can you do … by when? (This helps the person pinpoint specific actions)
2. Can you think of anything that would prevent you from doing that?(This helps identify potential obstacles and eliminates “down the road” excuses)
3. Will you do that?(This locks-in the employee’s agreement/commitment)
People commonly respond with I’ll do my best or I’ll try harder. These aren’t solutions – they’re just statements … with lots of wiggle room. If you hear them, respond by telling the employee that you appreciate his or her cooperation, and then ask, “What specifically will you do to carry out these good intentions?”