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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Dec 27, 2018


Avoid looking at correctable behavior situationally. “Bill is consistently late for work. How do I correct it?” This is focusing on what we don’t want and not focusing on the goals of the organization...which means we can end up missing the opportunity to really create what we do want. Do you want Bill to show up an exact time each day? Or do you want him to communicate better about his schedule? Are you worried about the impact of his behavior on the other employees? Or do you simply find it disrespectful? If we only try to eliminate what we don’t want, we probably are going to find ourselves creating frustration in the relationship and not getting what we really do want.

Leaders have a responsibility to do some work before we should expect a relationship where correction flows freely and openly. One of the fastest ways for feedback to be rejected is when it comes from someone who does know who they are themselves. They berate others for being sloppy, but you can’t even see the top of their desk. They expect their staff to do everything perfectly the first time, but they continually make mistakes in their responsibilities. Without knowing their own strengths and weaknesses, working on themselves and being humble enough to share their awareness, other employees will question any correction from that person.

Clear vision is required for a relationship that embraces correction. As leaders we must clarify what we have for expectations: What we are working create? What behaviors should get rewarded? Give the team the expectations and knowledge to complete the job satisfactorily up front. This sets the team up for success rather than just handing it off and wishing them luck only to berate them later for not doing it correctly or efficiently.

Leaders have a responsibility to model the way. It holds us to a higher standard. If we expect our employees to clean the windows, we not only need to show them how but to keep our own windows spotless. If we expect people to be punctual, we can’t be late. We also have to model a willingness to seek and accept feedback. Effective teams have information flowing up and down. We need to have the humility to show how to take correction ourselves.


What makes for effective correction?

  1. Focus on the behavior, not the person. Focusing on the person can damage the relationship and create resistance. Say, “We want to have all of the parts organized by machine. In looking through storage room, it’s better...but I need you to take another run through, ensuring everything is in the right bin.” Avoid saying things like, “You call that clean? Where did you learn to organize? I’d hate to see what your house looks like.”
  2. Learn how to use good questions. It’s easy to jump to conclusions and prematurely offer advice or guidance when we don’t have all the information. However, be very careful using questions that begin with “why.” Why, you ask? Think about it: “Why are you organizing the room like this?” If someone asks you like that you are now in a position to defend yourself. But try it as, “What issues could we run into with this system?” or “How do you see getting everybody on-board with this?” This opens up dialogue and discussion.
  3. Ask permission. This gives the other person choice and control. Comments like, “Hey, I’ve got a lot of experience in projects like this; how much coaching would you like from me along the way?” or, “I’ve noticed a few things about your approach—would you want any feedback?” or even, “There are a couple of concerns I have...My question for you is: How honest you want me to be?” make for a far more receptive audience than simply launching into offering unsolicited corrections. It becomes a conversation rather than a one-way judgment session.

I hope you’ve found some things that can help develop your leadership skills today. If you are looking to grow your business effectiveness, give Water Street Solutions a call at 866.249.2528.