I want you to imagine that you are
driving down a peaceful road.
You have the windows down on a sunny day,
favorite music playing through the speakers,
you take a deep breath, and bam a car
comes out of nowhere and cut you off.
Now, you look at this buffoon and assume that the driver is a
self-centered, egotistical, good for nothing, downright jerk
who should have their license revoked because they have no
consideration for the road and they are a complete hazard to society.
What a nuisance! However, when we cut someone off, we
tend to find loads of justification for our actions.
We didn't intend on cutting someone off.
We didn't see the other car.
We simply needed to get in to the other lane
and the turnoff was quicker than expected
and our GPS didn't give a proper heads off and we judge ourselves by
our intentions while we judge others by their outcomes and behaviors.
We see this happen on the road and we see this
happen with our team members in patient care.
Think of all of the times you saw someone miscalculate,
misspeak, make a less-than-perfect decision,
misdocument, not document, forget, and mess up and
now think of the times that you have done the same.
One of the greatest blenders in providing effective
performance feedback is the fundamental attribution error.
This is really a fancy way of saying
that too often we judge other people
by their behavior while judging
ourselves by our best intentions.
And this brings me to an important element
of effective performance feedback.
You need to acknowledge intention alongside
behavior when giving your feedback.
When addressing undesired performance, identify outcomes,
or behavior and disregarding intention is pretty easy.
However, this mindset can create tension
and a disconnect between both parties
and can be an obstacle in influencing
For example, I was working with a seasoned, established team
member that was described by his team as constantly blunt,
sometimes abrasive, headstrong,
argumentative, and at times called malicious.
I spoke with the team member and
asked him about his behavior.
He did not perceive his actions
the way they were interpreted.
He was intending to be confident,
passionate, and convincing.
What others saw as abrasive,
he saw as passionate.
And there was a gap between his
intentions and his outcomes.
Rather than reprimanding the behavior, I partnered with
him to better match the intentions and the outcomes.
This was a more productive dynamic for
improved performance and effective change.
When considering the intentions, first look at the surroundings
of the performance to get a better context of the environment.
Did the patient have a family member that was challenging
and distracted or undermined the team member?
Did the nurse return from a
code and was so flustered?
Was the team short-staffed
These are not excuses but it is context to give
a holistic view of the undesired behavior.
First, take a moment and observe the context of the
performance, frustration, behavior, or attitude.
Next, genuinely and sincerely ask "What was your
intention?" to establish an understanding of intentions.
People generally do not intend on being low
performers, bad drivers, or challenging team members.
Find out the other person's intentions so that you can best coach
the team member to better match the behavior with the intention.
Lastly, inquire. What
can I do to help?
Sometimes the answer is nothing
more than showing support.
Sometimes, there are practical action steps you can
take to help champion your team members' success.
Sometimes, the team member needs
some guidance or mentorship.
No matter how clearly you communicate expectations, there
is always an opportunity for expectations to be unmet.
The goal in these situations is to help the person improve
so that your entire unit can provide better patient care.
So, here's what I want you to do when
addressing undesired performance.
Begin by observing the context, asking for
intentions, and offering help to improve.