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6 October, 2016

How to Use Corrective Feedback to Quickly Improve the Behaviour of Poor Performers

If you’ve got a poor performer in your business unit, and you want to improve their performance quickly, what’s the way to do it?

Well, provided their manager isn’t reinforcing the poor behaviour – which is more common than you would think – the next step is for the manager to coach the person using a Corrective Feedback coaching method.

The key to coaching is to ask, rather than tell. The reality is, managers are naturally inclined to tell people what they need to do. Unfortunately, this isn’t effective. What you want is for the words to come out of the poor performer’s mouth – they tell the manager what they need to change. When this happens, the poor performer is forced to think through the issue, and the manager will get a much greater commitment to change than if they simply tell the person what they should do.

A proviso in terms of asking rather than telling is that the poor performer is aware of the expectations of them – these would have been laid out as part of their job role, or put in place by their manager.

There are 2 critical steps in this process. We’ll cover the first step today, and the second one next time.

The first step is for the poor performer’s manager to ask them of the impact or the importance of the inappropriate behaviour. Questions the manager might ask include;

  • “Can you just remind me of our expectations in terms of how you perform in this particular situation?”
  • “What is your understanding about why these expectations are in place?”
  • “What sort of effect does it have if you don’t follow those procedures or expectations?”

The intention here is to build up a case in the person’s mind where they agree their behaviour is inappropriate, and is having a negative effect – which is achieved by asking, not telling. Without doing this, it will be hard to get poor performers to change their behaviour.

Next time we’ll look at the second critical step in Coaching Conversations, so your managers can quickly improve the behaviour of poor performers.

To get our report “The #1 Most Costly Leadership Development Mistake Businesses Make, and What to do About It”, which shows how to make sure you get the increases in employee performance and engagement you’re wanting from your leadership development program, for more profit, click here.


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