How to get the best out of any employee

Why can’t that employee get it right!? Your knee-jerk reaction is to go lecture your team member with a feedback sandwich (so tasty!) and capitalize on this ‘learning opportunity’ by showing that person how to do it right. 

Okay, step back. Think twice about how you approach the conversation. Be careful not to take power and accountability back from your team members when they make mistakes if you want to foster a high-performance team.

The quick fix…

Typically we try to understand what happened and then fix it. We ask questions like: ‘What did you do wrong?’, ‘Why didn’t this get done on time?’, ‘Why did you try to do it that way when I told you to do it this way?’.’

Try something different. Once we find out what happened, it’s easy for leaders to jump in and try to fix it. Generally, any advice, statement, or action you take at this juncture will result in you letting your teammate off the hook. You’re taking their problem on at this point.

Let’s talk different. Not better, not best, let’s simplify it to just “different.”

Why is this my problem?

Think about it, if you take over someone else’s mistake, what are you telling that person? So, what do your teammates have to lose if they make the same mistake again? What have they learned from the experience?

Although you think the quickest solution is to fix the problem, remember to ask questions. “What do you think would have been a better solution?” or “What’s happening here that can make forward movement to the solution?” Quality organizations, and teams, are not built on one person taking all the accountability. Sometimes the most difficult, but best solution for the long-term sustainability of the team is to let that person generate the solution him or herself.

Just imagine what’s possible with a team that doesn’t need you to take on all of their problems.


Matthew Koren is a team management and leadership consultant and executive coach based out of Portland, OR. To learn more and receive great, useful content each month, sign up for my email list here.