Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Instant Impact Corrections

The Instant Impact Correction

I acknowledge the wisdom and effectiveness of Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager concept. However, making an Instant Impact seems a bit more applicable in many work settings.

For example, the Instant Impact Correction can help a supervisor accomplish the goal of stopping wrong behavior or performance immediately, even when others are around, without “reprimanding” the employee in public. Or, if the conversation will be in private, it can keep it from being a major drama, or an ominous closed-door interview.

An Instant Impact Correction can be an emergency brake that immediately stops things from getting worse, or a tweak, nudge or bump that results in a course correction for potentially problematic performance or behavior. The biggest accomplishment of an Instant Impact Correction is that it can keep a work relationship positive when there is a potential for it to be negative.

When a Tweak or a Nudge is Needed

This is appropriate when you believe a quick reminder will be sufficient. If the response of the employee indicates more in-depth conversation is needed, you can escalate your communication. However, you might as well start easy if it is appropriate. For example, you mention a problem in a conversational way and ask for a change. Or, you stop something and give clear directions or guidelines for behavior or performance. Or, you bring a small violation to an employee’s attention and conversationally tell them what you want them to do differently next time.

Build on your good working relationships. I use the word conversational, to convey the idea that these are not big, dramatic counseling sessions. You are simply communcating with someone with whom you hopefully have a decent working relationship.

“Hey Mark, I noticed you were about fifteen minutes late. Was everything OK this morning?” (Mark says the traffic was horrible.) “Yeah, I know it can be a mess. But, we need you here at eight though, OK?” He says OK, and says again that it was the traffic. You close it with, “I figured it was something like that.” Then, you can talk about work or start walking toward another work area, or in some other way, close the conversation.

For most employees, that is enough. If it isn’t, you can say more or ask him to step into your office so you can talk about it. But if it is enough, you have made your point in a way that is respectful and open. Don’t over-talk an Instant Impact Communication, otherwise you will have an Interminable and Naggy Communication!

When an Emergency Brake Must be Applied

This is appropriate when you have observed something that must be stopped immediately and with a clear message that it is undesirable behavior or performance. This might even be done in front of others if the violation presents a serious liability or if it is important for the others to know the actions were wrong. (You will feel like a parent sometimes, but your point will be made.)

If the matter was serious enough to correct in front of others you will probably need to follow-up with a brief private conversation. This also gives you a chance to explain why it was important enough that you had to say something immediately. I have talked to dozens of supervisors who said when they did this the employee started the conversation by apologizing. If we handle our communications effectively we can correct immediately, even in front of others, without creating bad feelings.

Show support for the employee when the incident is over: Whether you nudged the employee in the right direction or had to be more stern than that, show appropriate support as soon as possible. That does not mean you should have a “kiss and make up” approach or act as though the bad behavior or performance was not really important. However, you should converse in a civil and courteous way and get the focus back on effective work. Most employees are as anxious as you are for things to be back to normal.

Your goal as a supervisor or manager is to work with and through others to achieve the goals of the organization. If correcting is done effectively it can help you achieve goals and make your worklife and the worklife of others more pleasant and rewarding. It doesn’t even take a minute–you can accomplish it in an Instant!

September 10th, 2008 Posted by | Supervision and Management | 3 comments


  1. The Instant Impact ideas are the best things I’ve learned in your classes! They really do work. What is funny is when Phyllis uses it with me and we laugh and say, “that was an Instant Impact communication.” lol 🙂

    Comment by denisek | September 11, 2008

  2. Denise and I are both writing to say we use Instant Impact communications. They work! P.

    Comment by P.A.H. | September 11, 2008

  3. Tina says: I think I need to talk to the Sheriff about you two!

    Thumbs up and a smile! (An Instant Impact Thank You!)

    Comment by TLR | September 11, 2008

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