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Six Steps for Improving Employee Deficiencies

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Disciplining an employee can be one of the most uncomfortable tasks someone in a leadership position has to undertake, says Steve Trapp, North American strategic accounts manager at Axalta Coating Systems. Instead of waiting for annual performance reviews to discuss deficiencies, Trapp recommends on-the-spot coaching sessions, an idea Ken Blanchard introduced in his book, The One Minute Manager.

Whether it’s a positive or corrective action, Trapp says the coaching session should follow a simple procedure:

  1. Define the thing that bugs you. Set interdepartmental standards so you’re able to give very specific feedback. Keep your tone neutral and not punishing. If you get too punishing with your tone, it can make people defensive. But, you can be assertive by calling attention to your observations. Be clear that the behavior is unacceptable.
  2. Have a specific recommendation in mind as a plan for improvement. You’re always giving them a specific example.
  3. Invite them into the discussion, and ask for their ideas. Allowing them to be a part of it and asking if there are any ways to enhance the correction gets you their commitment.
  4. During that discussion, also mention that fixing the behavior is mutually beneficial.
  5. Next, set some checkpoints that can be put in place for regular follow-up to make sure that the recommendation is being carried out.
  6. Finally, thank them for the coaching moment. That way, they realize this was a coaching session and not a random occurrence.


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