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Episode 34: Helping Improve Their Performance

communication performance issues podcast Aug 16, 2022


If a team member is under performing, what steps can I take to help them improve?”

We all face those moments when someone on our team isn’t performing the way we expected. The reason for underperforming isn’t always what we think it is. What are the steps we need to take when trying to help someone improve?

Don’t assume. Ask.

When things don’t get done right, mistakes are made, deadlines missed, attitude surface or any other number of performance concerns … our natural response is to make some assumptions about why it’s happening.

  • We assume they don’t know how to do something, when instead it was lack of clarity in the assignment.  (A simple fix is to improve clarity)
  • We assume it’s because their workload is too much, only to find out it’s a skill they lack in prioritizing. (A simple fix is helping them develop the skill with accountability and support)
  • We assume they are avoiding a task because they don’t like it, but maybe it is lack of motivation due to a crisis at home, lack of role clarity or not understanding the “why”. (A simple fix is to address the lack of motivation) 

Be Clear. Be Kind.

I live in the land of Minnesota nice where direct communication tends to be avoided in favor of trying to be “nice.” When delegating tasks, communicating expectations, and getting the job done well, “Minnesota nice” needs to be set aside in favor of clear and kind communication. 

  • Offer clear and well-defined expectations
  • Give direct and kind feedback sooner rather than later
  • Keep an open-door policy for clarifying questions along the way

When the behavior of someone on your team is starting to frustrate you it can be easier to swing to being too kind or being too direct. Finding the middle space that is both clear and kind starts with getting clear on what specific behaviors need to change and why. 

Get resources!

I have a natural preference for Myers Briggs iNtuition preference in how I process information. I see in big pictures and general gut impressions of what the right direction is to go. At one point I was leading a team where everyone else on the team preferred the opposite – using Myers Briggs Sensing preference details and concrete steps is how they processed information. 

Once I learned the differences in the way we communicate it was a lot easier for me to be clear in the way they needed me to be clear. 

I learned that did a better job of being clear when I wrote it down – I would take the images in my head of what could be or should be and make them more concrete and put it into steps. That didn’t always come naturally for me, but it’s what my team needed from me to be clear; and that’s kind.

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