7 Steps for Successfully Addressing Negative Behaviors

wrong way stop and take a uturn making a mistake turn back now bProviding feedback—especially less than positive feedback—is a task many managers dread.  But feedback is an essential part of providing the day-to-day coaching people need to succeed—especially in today’s fast-paced business environment where people at all levels are in a constant learning mode.

In the new issue of Training Industry magazine best-selling business author Ken Blanchard outlines an effective 7-step process for redirecting behavior that is off-track.  Drawing from his just released book with Spencer Johnson, The NEW One Minute Manager, Blanchard shares a model for leaders looking to provide feedback in a way that helps people learn and see what they need to do differently.

Re-direct the person as soon as possible. Do a re-direct as soon as you become aware of the mistake. When you catch mistakes early on, you can give feedback in small doses and the person can learn from it.

Confirm, review, and be specific. Review what went wrong. Make sure the goal you originally set with the person was clear. If it wasn’t, take responsibility for that, and clarify the goal. Specify exactly how the person’s behavior didn’t support your mutual goal.

Express how you feel about the mistake and its impact on results. Don’t attack the person, but do share how you feel about it. Sharing honest emotions about what you see going wrong—as well as concern about the possible negative effects on results highlights the importance of the work and your shared responsibility for succeeding.

Be quiet for a moment.  Allow people time to feel concerned about what they’ve done. Once you’ve told the person how you feel, pause for a few seconds to let it sink in. This quiet time is surprisingly important. It gives the person a chance to feel concerned about their mistake and think about the impact it might have.

Remember to let them know you think well of them as a person. Now your focus turns from the behavior to the person. Let them know that they are not their behavior; they’re the person managing their behavior. Assure them you think well of them personally. Tell them you don’t expect a repeat of that mistake and that you look forward to continuing to work with them on the goal.

Remind them that you have confidence and trust in them, and support their success. No matter how delicately you’ve redirected someone, they may still be feeling defensive. By reaffirming that you value and appreciate them, they’ll be more apt to learn and less prone to rationalize or blame somebody else. When you walk away, you want the person to think about what they did, not talk to a coworker about how they were mistreated.

Realize that when the re-direct is over, it’s over. The re-direct only takes about a minute, and when it’s over, it’s over.

Blanchard shares that handled well, redirection can be a learning experience for both leaders and direct reports. By refocusing on the goal, together you can strategize how to align performance with the desired result. And because the situation ends positively, it can help you forge an even stronger relationship.

What’s your approach to redirecting unwanted behavior? You can read more in Ken Blanchard’s column, Leadership 2.0.  It appears quarterly in Training Industry magazine.  To learn more about Blanchard’s book with Spencer Johnson, visit The NEW One Minute Manager book page.

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