Improve the Good or Fix the Flaw?


Employee flaws (and we are all flawed) draw managers’ attention like flies to honey.  No matter how well team members perform, one little glitch—even a typo—can become the impetus for serious interventions. 

To illustrate, a manager said, “We recently hired an accounting major to produce our monthly financials.  Another small part of his job was to enter data—soil nutrients, water content, air permeability, etc.—in an app which our customers use in crop management.”   

“I think you are about to tell me you are disappointed in the employee,” I responded.

“All of his work is good quality.  He is just careless about updating the data.” 

“What happens if the updates take a little longer than you want?”

“Not much.  Our customers do not look at the app every day and most probably would not even be aware.”

“How have you been dealing with this?”

“I’ve had numerous coaching conversations and routinely send reminders.”

“Have you communicated with him about your appreciation for his high-quality work?” 

“No.  Work quality is not an issue.”

Leaders who chose to improve the good, while reducing attention to the less good, are more likely to create energized, high-performing teams. 

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