Leader as Counselor – Follow-Up for Success!

Anyone who has ever played a sport can still hear his or her coach saying, “It is all in the follow through!”

The same is true for the leader cast into a position of counseling a problem player and converting that undesired behavior into a desired one. “It is all in the follow through (up)!”

As a leader, how you tactically engage a problem player and, more importantly, follow through to ensure that the future behavior is healthy and wise is critical. To increase the odds of bad behavior patterns disappearing and constructive behavior patterns emerging, consider these tactical actions for following up after a counseling session:

  1. Set specific follow-up time frames daily (whether face-to-face or via e-mail, telephone, fax, video conferencing, etc.) to ensure there are no unexpected obstacles that have risen to impede performance improvement. Continue this follow-up until you are confident you have been there for the reinforcement period necessary for the behavioral change. When you feel you’re done, include another ten days for added security!
  2. Consider writing out action plans for performance improvement on a piece of paper, index card, reverse side of a business card, PDA or computer; post it where you will see it three times a day. Looking at your action plan at the beginning of the day will serve as a mental direction for what the goal is; midday will serve as a reminder of what one is supposed to be doing; the end of the day will serve to ensure work was contributed to the goal for that day!
  3. Engage others as a sort of support and reinforcement group to aid the individual in question and encourage their positive behaviors.
  4. Solicit support and active participation from any formal entities (networking groups, mentors, union leadership, advocates, colleagues, etc.) that can gain from the improved performance.
  5. Reward only the positive improvement – nothing less! No rewards for getting close or making baby steps!
  6. Have follow-up meetings in a location that serves to reinforce the significance of the desired behavior. Drawing upon the high school principal office syndrome can aid your cause, so meet in the boss’s office occasionally. This will add additional reinforcement to the seriousness and gravity of the counseling session and, thus, the follow-up expectations!

As a leader, how you follow through and follow up is a sign of your professionalism. “It is all in the follow through”.

-Dr Jeff Magee
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