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When managing a person on your team, what’s the best approach to motivating someone who is under performing without discouraging them?

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What are their positive traits?

On a personal level, it helps to hear that I’m doing SOMETHING right before me and my supervisor solve my weaker points.

Starting off with totally negative feedback (motivation aside) usually leaves the other person feeling sore.

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This! Bonus points if you can suggest ways to apply their positive traits to improve upon areas where they might fall short.

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Sandwich criticism between layers of praise. Example: your doing so well on —. Let’s spend some time focusing on (under performing task) as it seems to be an area of struggle. Your such an intelligent and hard worker I know you’ll pick it up in no time.

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This isn’t underhanded, to me. It shows that the reviewer has confidence in their employee’s capabilities and that there’s inherent potential for improvement.

It beats saying “so you’re bad at this and you need to fix it;” while that’s direct and all, it’s not a terribly understanding way to frame a taking point.

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Have you taken Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz or read the framework? It might be worthwhile - to explore what motivates this individual to fulfill expectations and obligations. Do they need accountability? A reason for why they’re being asked to do a task? Etc.

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I often ask how they feel they’re doing. Sometimes they self identify the underperformance and might give you insight into personal challenges affecting them or professional needs they need further help with. Or, if they over-inflate their current performance, you can prompt questions about recent projects where you’ve been disappointed and ask them to talk you through one example at a time, from their point of view. As they illustrate what they did well (or not), you can also share specifics of what you wished you had seen from them and need to see from them in the future, and why. It might help bring to life the pivot or change that you need from them, while making them an active part of the process.

This is insightful. Empathy goes a long way; thank you for approaching reviews like this.

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किस किस का नाम लें, अपनी बरबादी मेँ;
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