Leadership Skills (2ofX) - Constructive Reprimand

14 Jan

In the article "Leadership skills (1 of X) – Goal Setting”, we learned how to set goals. In the process of achieving these goals the subordinates execute acts worthy either praises or reprimands.
For proper motivation and growth of the colleagues the leader must deal out everyone what the latter leadership skills, constructive reprimand, leaderdeserves.
The process of constructive reprimand begins long before subordinate’s blunder.  How is it possible?

1. Create in advance a clear simple system for employee performance evaluation (in contrast to sporadic improvised evaluations).
The reprimand should be split in two parts for maximum effect.
The first part focuses on the blunder and the behavior that led to it:
2.1. When? Reprimand the employee immediately after his mistake.
Managers often delay the penalty for weeks and months. Time erases the important details, particularly in the memory of the subordinate who did the blunder.  These managers reprimand only after they get pissed off from several mistakes in a row.  But in such situation both sides enter the realm of emotions where reason is only a servant.  Such emotional conflict benefits nobody. Thus when we, as leaders, face employee mistake or learn about such from the reports, we should immediately reprimand that employee. It is leaders’ duty to provide on time feedback. It's not right to keep negative emotions within ourselves because of someone's improper actions.
2.2. What? State clearly what went wrong.
No emotions! Use only thoroughly checked facts! Facts must be so clear and explicit that nobody could dispute their validity. Briefly explain what was not done properly, i.e. criticize only the conduct of the employee. Do not attack his personality or competence because that will force the subordinate to defend himself (to admit, I often drive them to a defence situation (
L,) but at least I care about them and thus I believe one day I will be a reprimand master).
2.3. How? Tell the employee how you feel because of his/her blunder.
There could not be any disputes as we are talking about our feelings.  And they are what they are (disappointed, confused, irritated, upset, angry).
2.4. Silence! Become silent for a few seconds!
Give the subordinate the chance to perceive our words and sense how we feel.

In the second part of the constructive reprimand we put the emphasis on employee’s personality:
3.1. Shake his/her hand touch him/her in such a way that s/he understand that we are truly on his/her side.
Touching should be done very carefully so that to have no other meaning but sincere support. The rule is – touch only when you are giving something (support, maintenance, security, courage).
3.2. Remind him/her how much we appreciate him/her!
The employee needs to “see” positive objective assessment of him.  If you keep him on work then there are positive qualities of his that are to be stated at this moment. Demonstrate respect for that employee.
3.3. Confirm once again that you have a very good opinion of his competence, but not for his actions in the concrete situation.
Clearly distinguish man from his error. My favourite phrases are: "To me you are very ... specialist has ... (mention his latest success). My disappointment with your blunder is due to the fact that I appreciate your abilities and therefore have high expectations from you! I believe you will not let such a mistake happen again!"
3.4. Punish and forget, do not reproach with the past blunders!
Do not remind the subordinate his mistakes every other day.  Nobody have any interest in focusing on the past errors or crashing subordinate’s self-confidence.
Why the constructive reprimand method works?

• The employee conduct evaluation is based on pre-established system
• Provides immediate feedback
• Indicates exactly where and when the subordinate went wrong
• Shares manager’s feelings about the blunder
• Reminds the employee what positive qualities s/he has and our respect of them
• The goal of the constructive reprimand method is to influence the subordinate’s behavior, but to preserve his/her personality.
Repriminding is undoubtedly among the most unpleasant duties of the leader .  Goal setting, repriminding and praising are the three basic leadership skills that enable leaders achieve better results by securing the desired behavior of each team member.

In the next article of the series “Leadership Skills (? Of X)”, we will deal with the praising.
In order to avoid word repetition - manager and leader are used as fully interchangeable words.



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