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Sunday, November 1, 2009

What does it take to get you to act?

Specifically, I'm talking about discipline. What does it take to get you to respond to behavior that is not up to your standards?

Anger: When I was a young leader, it often took me being upset or angry before I could openly and directly face someone not doing what he or she was supposed to be doing. I used to have to mentally "fire myself up" or have one of my junior managers help me get riled, reminding me of the inappropriate actions, in order to go take care of business.

Prodding: Sometimes it takes an event to get bosses to act, perhaps like some evaluation, especially if it's an evaluation of you. Maybe your boss is wondering how you're handling a situation or situations. Regardless, you're not going to act unless poked or prodded. Is it OK to take this approach as long as the behavior gets modified?

Self-prodding: This is the approach I've seen taken a lot by good managers. Someone isn't performing up to standards and you know you need to take action. You don't want to. It bothers you, perhaps to the point of almost making you nauseous, because you really don't like confrontations. However, you're a professional so you don't stick your head in the sand. It's your job and you know it. Your mind won't let it go until you deal with it. Eventually, you make corrections, but you've probably spent a fair amount of time worrying about how your team member will respond or how good a job you'll do at the correction. Your focus may be taken away from other priorities. Is all this OK as long as you get your person back on track?

Just another task: You are a mature, self-assured manager. You just see the need for a correction as another task on your list for the day. You don't worry about it. Sure, you may be a little disappointed that the correction is needed, but it's a part of life. Of course, you do think about the best way to proceed with that team're not cavalier about it. Perhaps you have such a strong relationship built with your people, based on open communication and mutual respect, that it's not a big deal to correct, coach, and move on. This approach seems the most healthy.

Think about it. Where are you among the different approaches to discipline? Can you identify with one of these or is your approach different? Are you at the place you want to be? If not, what will it take to help you get there?