Should You Reprimand or Should You Redirect?

Before you give a reprimand—think!  In many cases an employee needs to be redirected rather than reprimanded. In today’s workplace with constant changes in technology, people are continuously learning new skills. With all that learning, mistakes are bound to occur. For this reason, generally speaking, the need for redirection is much more prevalent today than the need for reprimands.

Use the following “decision tree” to help you determine whether an employee’s misstep in behavior or performance should lead to a reprimand or a redirection.

When someone does something wrong, first ask yourself, “Should this person have known better?”

 

·       If the answer is “No,” then the person is obviously unfamiliar with his or her assigned responsibility or task and still in a learning stage, and needs redirection. Never reprimand a learner—whether it’s a new hire learning the ropes, an experienced employee working on a new task, or your daughter learning to tie her shoelaces.  It will only cause confusion or outright discouragement.  In this instance, your role as a leader is to help, or redirect, the person who is having a problem. The five steps of an effective redirection are:

1.    Give the redirection as soon as possible after the problem happens. Prompt feedback is very important.

2.    Explain specifically what went wrong and how it could affect others.

3.    Take on a bit of the responsibility by saying something such as, “I must not have made it clear enough…” This reduces the pressure on the employee who is simply in need of supportive redirection.

4.    Reiterate the importance of the task.

5.    Reassure the person you still have confidence in him to help him move toward success on the task. The purpose of redirection is to set up, as soon as possible, an opportunity for a praising to occur.

 

·       If the answer is “Yes,” and you believe the person should have known better, then you must ask yourself, “Did this person make the mistake deliberately or because of a lack of confidence?” Remember—only reprimand deliberate behavior or unusual regressive performance of a normally strong performer.

  • If the problem revolves around a lack of confidence, try to determine the reason.  It could be that a new situation exists that is unsettling to a seasoned worker. For example, perhaps Brad, an experienced cashier, makes many errors on the new cash register.  The reason is most likely a lack of confidence due to a change from the familiar.  Brad doesn’t need a reprimand; rather, he needs training and practice on the new register, coupled with support from an understanding boss.  Reprimands have no place in this example.
  • If you have good reason to believe the person purposely did something wrong, or if the person’s typical good performance is continuously and obviously declining, a reprimand may be appropriate. If you deliver the reprimand with “caring candor,” a phrase coined by Garry Ridge, President and CEO of WD-40 Company, it can be a powerful motivator for a high performer whose recent goal achievement is not up to normal high standards.  Remember these four steps when you must reprimand an individual:

1.    As with a redirection, deliver the reprimand in a timely manner—as soon as the unusual poor performance or behavior is detected. A reprimand should never be saved for an annual performance review.

2.    Be specific about what was done incorrectly and the impact it could have on you or others; i.e., “You didn’t turn in your weekly report on time. When I don’t get reports from all our team members, I can’t do a complete analysis for my Monday leadership meeting.”

3.    Share your exact feelings about the situation—frustration, disappointment, surprise, etc.

4.    Finish by reaffirming the person’s past performance and letting her know the reprimand is not about her as a person, but about her behavior or actions. “This upsets me because it’s so unlike you. You’re one of my best people and you usually get your reports in on time.” This last step is very important because you want the person to walk away thinking about what she did wrong, not about how poorly you treated her.

 

Above all, remember to catch your people doing something right and praise them at every opportunity. You will be making deposits in the bank of goodwill, so that if you occasionally need to make a withdrawal via a redirection or reprimand, the sting will be short-lived and the employee will be that much more motivated toward high achievement.

Lead with LUV

I’m really excited about my brand-new book, Lead with LUV, that I wrote with Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus of Southwest Airlines. The reason I’m excited about it is that if I were asked to leave a legacy of my thinking today, this would be it. The world is in desperate need of this message of love and people first.

If you know anything about Southwest Airlines, you know they’re all about love. (They sometimes spell it L-U-V because LUV is their symbol on the New York Stock Exchange.) They love their people and they love their customers. They love their work and take it seriously—but they don’t take themselves seriously.

For example, a colleague of mine was flying on Southwest recently when the attendant got on the public address system and said:

“You know, this is the last flight of the day and we’re really tired. To be honest with you, we don’t have the energy to pass out the peanuts, so we’re going to put them on the floor in the front the plane and when we take off and gain altitude, they’ll slide down the aisle.  If you want some nuts, just grab them.”

And that’s what happened! The whole airplane was in hysterics—laughing, having fun, grabbing peanuts, passing them to their neighbors—just having a blast!

That’s leading with LUV. How different is that than your typical experience on most airlines, where everyone seems so uptight?

Leading with LUV is about treating your customers right. Southwest really gets this. For example, when you call most airlines to change a reservation, you usually get a recording that says they really value your business, but all of their operators are busy right now; they’ll get to you as soon as possible. Then the music starts.  You could be waiting on hold for fifteen or twenty minutes or more.

But when you call Southwest Airlines, you usually get an operator, and if you don’t, you get a recording that says, “Your business is really important to us.  We’re sorry all of our operators are busy right now, but at the beep, please leave your name and phone number and we’ll get back to you in ten minutes.”

I did this recently, and you know what happened in ten minutes?  My phone rang and somebody said, “Is this Ken Blanchard?”

“Yes, it is,” I said.

“This is Bob from Southwest Airlines,” he said. “How can I help you?”

Now that’s what I call raving fan service! And that’s how you lead with LUV. No wonder Southwest is the only airline that has consistently turned a profit while the others have struggled.

These heart-warming stories don’t happen by accident. When an organization has happy people, happy customers, and happy shareholders, it’s because the leadership has created a culture that supports leading with LUV.  So, how do you do that?

First, you have to create a vision—something to love, something with a higher purpose than just making money. Southwest’s vision was that all people—not just the elite—would be able to afford to fly.

Second, you have to create the rules of the road—the values that will guide people as they work toward that higher purpose. For example, Southwest has three values:

  • A Warrior Spirit
  • A Servant’s Heart
  • A Fun-LUVing Attitude

Third, once you have the vision in place and the values established, the leaders have to get out of the way so they can cheer people on to achieve the vision. This means turning the traditional pyramidal hierarchy upside-down, so that the leaders support their people, rather than vice versa.

What does this look like in the real world? How do you, as a leader, lead with LUV?

First, by acknowledging people. When she was president of Southwest, Colleen Barrett sent out thousands of hand-written notes to her people every year, celebrating their successes, sympathizing with their losses, and thanking them for being extraordinary.

Second, by backing people up. Southwest founder Herb Kelleher once got a letter from a grumpy customer complaining about how much it bothered him that the flight attendants goofed off during the safety announcement. Because a Fun-LUVing Attitude is a Southwest value and this was a customer who tended to complain a lot, Herb didn’t apologize or offer him a coupon. Instead he wrote back, “We’ll miss you.” He stood by the values and the people of Southwest.

The third way to lead with LUV is to make your people your business partners. For example, pilots at Southwest have personally paid for hotel rooms for customers who, because of bad weather, had to spend the night in an unfamiliar city. The pilots could see that the people needed help. Because the pilots knew they were Southwest’s business partners, they didn’t call and ask, “Is it okay? Will I get reimbursed?” They led with LUV and created grateful, satisfied customers.

Leading with LUV is not soft management—it’s smart management. When you put positive relationships ahead of profits, you end up with an abundance of both.

Someone once said to my wife, “Margie, you’ve lived with Ken for almost fifty years. What do you think leadership is?”

Margie nailed it when she said, “Leadership IS love, it’s not about love.  It’s loving your mission, it’s loving your people, it’s loving your customers, and it’s loving yourself enough to let other people be magnificent.”

I couldn’t say it any better. So if you’re looking for satisfying, long-term success, remember: Leading with LUV is not about somebody else in some other organization. Leading with love is about you. So treat your colleagues and your customers like family, and Lead with LUV.

Here are a few other great things we’re doing around the book:

  • We opened a new webpage for people to learn more about how our company uses the Lead with LUV principles at www.leadwithluv.com. You can even watch Southwest’s fantastic corporate video!
  • Do you know someone who leads with LUV? There are two ways you can let the world know about it:
    • Go to our Lead with LUV page on HowWeLead and post your story in the comments section. Do you know of a great video like Southwest’s? You can even embed a YouTube video if you like!
    • Catch someone doing things right via Twitter. Use the hashtag #leadwithluv and post a quick Tweet about a friend or coworker who exhibits these great qualities.
  • Watch a video introduction by Colleen and myself, read the first chapter of the book, and learn more about leading with LUV at our book page.

Have a great day!

I’m OK, You’re Not – It’s All About EGO

I believe the biggest addiction problem in the workplace today is the human ego.  When people operate from their ego, their behavior tends to be based on fear rather than trust. When people behave out of fear, they have a high need to control others and their environment and they have a win-lose orientation toward everything.  Even when discussing the weather they want to make sure you know that they know more about weather than you do. They broadcast a philosophy about life that states “I’m okay, you’re not.”

I discovered this addiction many years ago when my wife Margie was writing a book with Dr. Mark J. Tager entitled Working Well and studying what made a healthy work environment. One of the questions they asked people in their research was, “Can a bad boss make you sick?”  A lot of people said, “Yes.”  They cited examples such as migraine headaches, ulcers, sleepless nights—even heart attacks and cancer.

I became fascinated by people’s perceptions of bad bosses, so I started asking people around the country to describe the worst boss they had ever worked for.  The primary description I heard was that of a high ego-driven person.  The worst managers were described as poor listeners who were reluctant to share credit and always wanted to be in the limelight.  While a lot of people would think people with a big ego had high self-esteem, I found the opposite to be true:  Individuals who operate from their ego are usually covering up “not okay” feelings about themselves.  They try to compensate for feelings of inadequacy by overpowering others and controlling their environment.

Why do I feel ego addiction is so harmful to the business community?  Because it is holding back progress in organizations.  Companies all over the country are having difficulties moving toward being the kind of organization they need to be to make it in this economy.  Companies today need to be customer driven, cost effective, fast and flexible, and continually improving.  To do this we need high-trust environments.  And yet, throughout the work world managers are hesitant to empower others and give them a chance to have more responsibility and take initiative to make decisions.  The people who are fearful and holding back support of these changes in business are those who are operating from their ego.  They fear loss of power and control.

People who are hung up on their egos and who operate out of fear really need love.  Yet it’s hard to love these people because they don’t seem very lovable.  Instead, folks with big egos seem to be demanding, self-centered, and unsatisfied. They feel better about themselves when they can make others feel inferior.  Fortunately, their attempts don’t have to be successful.  As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”

Just because someone has power doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a need to feel appreciated.  When was the last time you caught your boss doing something right?  When was the last time you gave your boss a hug?  I’m not necessarily talking about a physical hug—even a psychological hug can help.  Thank her for her support or for doing a good job on a certain task.  In my sessions I ask people who are parents whether their love for their kids depends on their kids’ achievements.  Rarely does a hand go up.  We love our children without any contingencies—it’s called unconditional love.  I think the same approach is needed in the workplace today.  We need to learn to trust and respect others, even if we sometimes have a problem with their behavior. If we can help everyone in the workforce feel good about themselves and raise their self-esteem, we’ll have more people willing to share power by permitting others to take initiative, make decisions, and let work teams be the main vehicle for decision making.  To overcome ego addiction, people have to get in touch with their own worthiness.  If it’s hard for them, others can help.

Everyone in organizations should set a goal to maintain or enhance the self-esteem of the people with whom they interact, for the benefit of all.  Big egos can be tamed with the right amount of tender loving care.

Managing Up The Organization

It’s not uncommon after I have given a presentation for someone to say to me, “If only my manager had been here!  He (or she) really needed to hear this.”  I feel it’s a bit of a cop-out to blame your work problems on others.  It’s a safe way of not taking responsibility for your own circumstances and initiative to make things better.  The fact of the matter is that, during the span of your career, it’s likely that two out of every three managers will not be very good at the job of managing.  Are you going to let that keep you from getting what you want and need in your job?

If you’re going to succeed, you need to train your manager to give you what you need.  Fortunately, this is easier than it may sound—perhaps as easy as 1,2,3:

1. Give your manager what he/she needs to be successful. It’s going to be difficult to get your manager to make special efforts to help you if you don’t first show, through your actions, that you are worthy of such special effort.  Be responsive both in promptly doing what is asked of you, as well as volunteering to help on special projects and responsibilities.  Be proactive, try to anticipate your manager’s needs, and help to meet those needs.  Take a moment on occasion to ask what else you could be doing to help out.  Your attitude and behavior on this first step paves the way for the next step.

2. Tell your manager what you need from him/her to be successful in your job. After you have confirmed with your manager what is expected of you in your job, state what you’ll need from him/her for you to succeed.  This is where your knowledge of One Minute Management can be used to get the results you want.  Identify simple, clear, and specific One Minute Goals for each item you will be counting on for your manager to deliver, and then set realistic time frames for when those items can be done.

3. Follow up on 1 and 2. By doing what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it, you will build a reputation for being dependable and responsible.  By tactfully following up on items your manager agreed to do, you will build the expectation of reciprocity.

When your manager follows through on a commitment to you, use One Minute Praising to positively reinforce the behavior.  I am constantly amazed at how many employees feel that managers don’t need praisings!  After all—so goes the logic—that’s why managers are paid more.  It’s as if by making more money managers graduate to being appreciated less!  Let me let you in on a secret:  People are never too old or too high up in an organization to not want praisings—it’s human nature. Everyone likes others to notice things they worked hard to achieve. Give your manager a praising today and see for yourself!  And remember to praise progress—don’t wait until something is done perfectly before you say something.

If your manager does not follow through on a commitment to do something for you, you need some subtle form of a One Minute Reprimand.  Either reestablish the goal while checking on what you could do to move things along, or redirect your manager’s efforts toward a more feasible and realistic task.  Of course, you won’t have the position power to reprimand your manager, but the more you have built your personal power with him/her, the more likely a subtle reminder will work to get things back on track.

So don’t lament that your manager hasn’t created the perfect working environment for you—do something about it!  Take control of your work life, and learn how to get what you want from your manager in order to make things happen for you and the company.  People who learn the skills of managing up will soon be the ones who move up in today’s organizations.