What to do When Feedback doesn't Work

June 23, 2010 -- Sal Silvester

I have written quite a bit in the past about the importance of providing feedback to team members. In fact, in a recent blog post, I termed feedback as "the glue that holds alignment together."

But what happens when feedback just doesn't work?

When performance isn't meeting expectations, and a team member has been provided with consistent and transparent feedback, the next step in trying to help a team member make behavioral change is constructive discipline.

Like feedback, discipline is intended to help a team member change so that they can turn performance problems into performance positives. There are a few key principles to constructively disciplining a team member.

1. Conduct the process in a way that doesn't embarrass or undermine the team member.

2. Involve the team member in the process.

3. Follow organizational policies.

But how should a discipline interaction be handled between a manager/supervisor and team member?

Here is a simple 6-step process to follow. This process is covered in detail in our Vital Learning workshop on Effective Discipline.

Step 1: State the performance problem.

Step 2: Ask the team member for his/her view of the situation.

Step 3: Ask the team member for a solution to the performance problem.

Step 4: Agree on a plan.

Step 5: Give the team member a verbal or written warning (depending on organizational policy).

Step 6: Setup a time for review.

Don't ignore Step 6 in the process. This structured reinforcement is the key to making behavioral change stick.

The People-first Bottom Line: Having the difficult conversations is never easy, but avoiding them does a disservice to the team member, your team, and the organization as a whole. Use the simple process above and plan the interaction ahead of time.

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