Last week, in part one of this series, I shared the three key reasons that somebody is under performing and how to identify whether a lack of knowledge, lack of engagement, or inter-or-intra personal conflict is at the source.
So it’s only appropriate that once we identify what the problem is, now we get clear on how to fix it.
The good news is that irrespective of the source there is one way to fix it – as neuroscience of leadership expert David Rock would say, we get people under performing to “think about their own thinking.”
First, we get them clear on what the problem is, from their vantage point, and help them identify and verbalize what it’s costing them. When someone can say that she’s been worried for the last 30 days about how to meet her quarterly client acquisition goal or that thinking about a brouhaha that transpired in front of the water cooler a week ago has severely compromised one’s relationship to his team, then the under performing person has a reason to invest his or her time in creating and implementing a solution. For if he or she doesn’t, the continued personal cost is clear.
Second, we get them focused on a solution. We ask open-ended questions. We mirror back what we hear people saying – and not saying. And we push people to go deeper and at times to uncomfortable places through questions such as, “What’s the truth that you’re not revealing?” “What else?” or “What are you pretending not to know?” We enable them to devise and take control over producing the outcomes that they (and sometimes we!) seek.
Finally, we give folks an opportunity to re-articulate - in their own words – the cost of NOT implementing the solution they have birthed, perhaps with a bit of feedback from us, and ask what support we can offer to transfer the strategy into action. A reoccurring theme through each of these basic steps is allowing people to communicate from a place of power. When people can speak their problems, needs, and solutions out loud they are much more poised for high performance than if they are ruminating on situations in their heads. Also, it takes care of accountability.
If we want the people in our lives, in our workplaces, in our communities, and in our own heads (yes, we can use this process to self-correct and improve ourselves) to curb under performance, we want them to flex the muscles and develop the behaviors to take responsibility for identifying and solving problems. Once this habit is ingrained, we will find ourselves giving up the habit of “saving people from themselves” because they will have access to their own super powers.