Help an employee get up to speed or master a task
- Determine how involved you need to be to help an employee improve performance or master a task:
- Frequently if the employee needs a lot of direction or support until the task has been mastered
- Less often if the employee only needs occasional feedback for reassurance
- Seldom if the employee is performing well and needs little to no direction
- Never if the employee knows what to do and can deliver results without your involvement
- Become well informed on what the employee needs to do to improve, and know what you’re talking about; gather partner input, examples or other information.
- Plan what you’ll say to help the employee improve performance:
- Keep your feedback focused on a specific topic or two so the main points of your message are not lost.
- Give concrete examples of the performance that needs to improve; refer to specific actions, interactions, documentation, partner feedback, work samples, quality measures, etc.
- Describe impacts, concerns or limitations regarding current performance.
- Discuss what the employee could say or do to perform more efficiently, effectively or interact more appropriately.
- Describe expectations for improvement you or your partners have (e.g., what, how, by when, how well).
- Offer your help and support and remind the employee to use you as a resource.
- Express appreciation for the employee’s willingness to improve.
- Time your feedback to be close to the event you’re addressing; delayed feedback is less effective in changing performance or behavior and has a greater probability of invoking an adverse reaction.
- Always give feedback to improve performance in private, never in front of others.
- Document highlights of your discussion; give a copy to the employee and put one in the desk file you keep for your employee including what was discussed and agreements made regarding next steps, results expected, time frames, etc.
(See Providing Feedback for additional tips.)
Engage the employee in discussion; encourage thinking things through instead of telling the employee to change
- Explain why you do something a certain way to help the employee understand your approach and thinking.
- Explore alternative ways to get work done that will lead to desired results (rather than just telling the employee what to do).
- Be open to the employee having a different way of doing something when there is more than “one way” to get the job done.
- Have the employee explain the approach, versus justify the approach (e.g., “Can you walk me through the steps you took?” instead of “Hey, why did you do it THIS way???!”).
- Avoid saying things like: “You did it WRONG…”, “What were you thinking?”, “You messed up!”
Suggested “scripts” for discussion with employees
- “This is a safety issue/compliance issue; you have to follow the procedure exactly.”
- “The number one priority is your safety; please keep that in mind as you complete your work.”
- “I would prefer it done this way, because….”
- “Let’s discuss how to get this done.”
- “There are a variety of ways to get this done. Let’s discuss how you’d like to proceed.”
- “I was thinking about doing it this way. … What do you think?”
- “Go ahead and do it the way you suggested as long as you meet the deadline.”
- “It may not matter how you do it as long as you deliver what is expected.”