The Alternative to Fixing Poor Performance

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The Alternative to Fixing Poor Performance

When it comes to leading others there is one constant: you can’t fix people. You can’t change people or their behaviors.

One approach to fixing people or their behaviors is the “carrot and the stick.” While this may yield short term results, they aren’t sustainable.

Why? Because this approach keeps you on the hook for their compliance, rather than empowering them to take ownership over their own behavior and results.

In fact, if you are feeling exhausted and increasingly frustrated by someone’s poor performance or bad behavior, it is a sure sign that what you have been trying to do is to fix them. 

[Tweet “Fixing people is exhausting because you will never be done.”]

What’s the alternative to fixing people?

The simple answer is to empower them. Help them to see that their situation or results are entirely up to them.

Consider that your primary job as a leader is to give people the ultimate tool of empowerment – choice. You can give people the support they need to be better and do better.

But make no mistake about it – the rest is up to them.

There are 3 steps to lead others to embracing their choices and taking 100% responsibility for their own success.

  1. Communicate what you need and expect from them in terms of behavior and/or results.

Be as clear and specific as possible. If they have room to grow, be clear that you see a gap. If there is a timeframe by when they need to demonstrate progress or results, set a date to check in and put it on the calendar now.

  1. Guide them in seeing the choices they have.

If you see them consistently making the same mistake, help them to identify what they can do alternatively.

To be an effective guide you must also diligently attend to their mindset. You must cause a shift in belief from “My success is up to them” to “My success is up to me.” For example, whenever they are pointing to outward reasons for their behavior and results, your role is to guide them back to looking in the mirror. This will help them see what they can do or change in order to improve.

  1. Hold them accountable for the results of their choices.

Their choices are entirely up to them. You can, however, hold them accountable for the impact of those choices on their commitments to you.

The key here is to focus on their results and the impact of their behaviors for better or for worse. If they are meeting your expectations and delivering on their promises, applaud them. If they are falling short, repeat steps 1 and 2.

If their behavior is having a positive impact acknowledge the behavior AND the impact. Conversely, if their behavior is having a negative impact, name the behavior but focus on helping them to see the impact.

Ultimately, performance is up to the performer.

People will either change or they won’t. Their performance will improve or it won’t. Their behavior will get better or it won’t.

When performance or behavior doesn’t improve, there is one final choice to make: do they stay or do they go?

The better you get at bringing people to choice, the more likely they will choose in the best interests of everyone including themselves, which might even be to move on.

And when they don’t choose what’s in everyone’s best interests, you’ll have an easy choice to make. After all, the only choice for a leader to make is the one that best serves their team, their organization, and their vision.

The alternative to fixing poor performance is leading people to own their results and holding them accountable for being and doing their best. 

Realizing your vision is up to you. The performance and environment you cultivate for your team is up to you. Just remember that an individual’s performance entirely up to them.


Image credit: Public Domain Pictures


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lori   |   07 October 2015   |   Reply