Start In The First Person When Delivering Course Corrections

Many leaders feel uncomfortable when giving course corrections. The last thing they want to do is demotivate a direct report, or hurt their feelings when something “is just not that big a deal” but should still be addressed.  The fact is if leaders didn’t care about the direct report’s success or believe they made valuable contributions to the organization, leaders wouldn’t bother giving feedback – they’d just fire the poor performer.

When giving feedback, starting in the first person prevents the direct report from being thrown on the defensive right from the first phrase.  If the leader begins in the second person, it can sound harsh and put the direct report in a defensive posture.

Second person: When you cut off your peers in staff meetings…

First person:  I’m concerned, or I’m disappointed, or I’m afraid despite or call your intentions, when you cut off your peers in staff meetings to interject your thoughts…

Read those out loud — notice how differently it sounds and the change in emphasis on the word “you.”

After starting in the first person, the direct report should get the distinct impression their leader has confidence they have the ability to correct their course, be successful, and fix a situation on their own which creates an empowered, non-defensive response.

Empowered leaders believe their direct reports can be contributors to the organization and providing course corrections by starting the feedback in the first person will make them more successful.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Communication, Leadership, Performance Acceleration

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