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

When “Criticize In Private” May Not Be The Best Tactic

Part Two of the series that evaluates the wisdom of applying “Praise in public, criticize in private” to supervisory activities.

The first article about this topic compared praising in public and private. This article focuses on at least two vital times when criticizing–in the form of intervening and strongly correcting in front of others (not lengthy reprimanding or harsh or sarcastic correction) is appropriate and may be necessary.

1. When behavior or performance by an employee presents a liability concern that must be corrected immediately, with a strong message for others. Examples of this could be a purposeful safety violation, an incident involving harassment, or some other very inappropriate conduct. It is absolutely necessary to stop the action and it is appropriate and necessary to let everyone present know that the behavior or performance is not acceptable.

There have been many civil actions against organizations that could have been prevented or mitigated by an immediate denouncement of bad behavior. I was reviewing a complaint about harassment and read a reference to a time when something very inappropriate was said in a meeting, but nothing was done about it. The supervisor who heard it but didn’t say anything said, “I talked about it to him later and told him not to do it again. I believe in praising in public and criticizing in private.” That was scant consolation from the complainant’s viewpoint.

2. When other employees are aware of a situation and might assume you approve or do not care, if you say nothing. I saw this in action when a supervisor quickly, concisely, and appropriately corrected an employee about throwing trash on the floor. When the supervisor responded immediately, other employees noticed, seemed to think justice had been done, and life moved on. What message would have been sent by no action? What if the supervisor would have waited to talk to the employee about it in private?

A supervisor must be concerned about both the employee and the organization: A supervisor is responsible for the interests of the organization. Fortunately, that is accomplished best by having good relationships with everyone. However, there are times when what is right and effective overall must take precedence over what is preferred by an employee.

Lieutenant Joe Goff, my commander when I was a new sergeant, once told me, “If a guy is willing to show his fanny in public, I don’t mind kicking it in public.” Let me hasten to add that I do not advocate verbally kicking someones fanny in public or private, and neither did Lt. Goff! His point was that if someone does something he or she knows is not acceptable and does it in front of other employees, a supervisor should be more concerned about the wrong behavior and its affect on everyone, than about upsetting the employee who is corrected in front of others.

“See me in my office.” This ominous statement is a long-standing solution for many supervisors, and it is sometimes useful. Other employees usually understand what that means, as evidenced by the quiet that comes over everyone! However, sometimes this is actually more negative sounding that your subsequent conversation will be. In addition, there is the concern that you will not have made a public statement about the situation, if that is needed.

The thing to remember is this: Just as there are times to praise in private, there are times to correct in public. When you do it, where you do it and how you do it is what makes it effective rather than ineffective or inappropriate. This is certainly the time when the Golden Rule applies! How would you want to be treated?

April 30th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work | no comments