The way a leader handles correction of someone on the team is important if the desire is to keep quality people on the team. All of us occasionally need someone to help us become better at what we do. That should be the end goal of correction. All of us make mistakes.
Avoiding the corrective procedure keeps the organization from being all it can be. It keeps people from learning from their mistakes. Good leaders use correction to improve people and the organization.
It’s important that we correct correctly.
Here are seven aspects of healthy correction:
Relationship—Corrective actions should start here. It’s hard to correct people effectively if you don’t have a relationship with them. Using authority without an established relationship may work in a bureaucratic organization but not in a team environment. Relationship building should begin before the need for correction.
Respect—Never condemn the person. As soon as correction becomes more personal than practical, the one being corrected becomes defensive and the leader loses the value of the correction. Focus attention on the actions being corrected and not the person. (Even if the correction involves a character issue, if you intend to retain the person, you will accomplish more if he or she knows they have your respect.)
Reprimand—Make sure the action being corrected is clear and the person knows what they did wrong. Don’t wait until the problem is too large to restore the person to the team. Even though protecting the relationship is important, the person doesn’t need to leave still clueless that there is a problem.
Refocus—In addition to telling the person what he or she did wrong, help them learn from their mistakes. Spend time discussing how the person can improve in the area of performance being corrected.
Restore—Make sure the person being corrected knows you still believe in their abilities and that you have faith they can do the job for which they are responsible. Correction is never easy to accept, but the goal should be to improve things following the corrective period. People will lose heart for their work if they do not think their work is still valued.
Reinforce—Correction can be a valuable time for the team member and organization if used appropriately. It should be a learning time for the leader and the person being corrected. Use this as a time to remind the team member of the culture, vision, goals and objectives of the organization as necessary to improve the team member’s performance. The leader should consider how he or she can improve to help the team member improve.
Replace—Some people simply aren’t a fit for the team. The problem could be them or the team. Making the call to replace a team member is hard but sometimes necessary to continue the progress of the organization. The sooner this call is made the better it will be for everyone. (If it reaches this point, the leader should spend time evaluating what went wrong with the relationship—was it the person, the organization or the leader?)
Leaders, do you avoid correction? Are you using it for the good of the organization and the people on your team?