Employee performance lagging? avoid this crucial mistake

A common challenge a manager faces is to consistently communicate with a ‘language of leadership’ that drives staff behaviour in the right direction. A manager becoming a catalyst to positive staff behaviour is crucial to increasing productivity in the workplace. When leaders evoke a positive ‘inner climate’ of thought and emotion in their employees, they persuade higher levels of creativity, productivity, commitment and cohesiveness from each employee, which is the essence of a high performing workplace.

The importance of autonomy

 Based on the 5 domains that our brains treat on the same plane as survival, which I have been sharing about in the last few blogs, another of the key domains that cause employees to feel threatened is a lack of autonomy.

Language has incredible power in heightening autonomy with our employees especially around problems, challenges and working towards goals – Simply changing ‘you need to do it like this!’ to ‘would it be worth trying this?’, neutralizes an employees defensive state to one that is more responsive or open to what we are saying.

 Mastering this domain is crucial, especially when needing to have a difficult conversation with a team or speak to an employee individually on their current performance. When employees and teams feel like:

  • They have options rather than demands around challenges and dilemmas and, or
  • They have greater freedom in how they achieve specific goals

They become open to hear what we have to say and more often than not, take action around ideas and suggestions.

Keep an open dialogue rather than a lecture

Encourage a proactive stance by staying out of the details, problems and drama of a situation and avoiding the lecture of blame, criticism and judgment. Don’t get stuck in the past of what went wrong and why it shouldn’t have happened the way it did…

Instead, focus on keeping an open dialogue that encourages an individual’s own thinking and their own strategy for solutions. Encourage your employees and teams to ‘water the right habits’. This achieves 2 things:

  1. Causes employees to reflect on actions, and create new habits (i.e. what might be worth doing differently from now on?)
  2. Avoids actions that devalue employees at work (i.e. what’s wrong with you? Why did you do this?)

I’m curious, do your team members have sufficient autonomy to solve problems and take ownership of the project? How could you work to support and strengthen individual and team autonomy?

Model Breakdown:

In any given moment an employee is deciding what to focus on, what something means and what action to take based on the meaning they have given to their perceptions. This is the basis to their thought and emotion and creates either a positive or negative emotional climate. This is important because how an employee feels personally and what meaning they give to events at work influences:

  • How immersed and focused they are in their tasks and activities
  • Their drive to actually work hard
  • How engaged they are in team projects.

Knowing how to drive a ‘toward response’ within all 5 brain domains is crucial to creating a positive workplace climate and improving the levels of creativeness, cohesiveness, commitment and productivity within your team.


Benjamin Young

Benjamin Young

Speaker | Coach | Trainer | at Job Performance Coaching & Training

I help executives, managers & team leaders to influence human behaviour and in essence get more out of individuals and teams in terms of execution and results, sustainably. I help both leaders and employees improve excellence, energy & productivity in the workplace. I do this by teaching three specific skill sets: 1. Dealing with having too much to do 2. Staying cool under pressure 3. Influencing Behaviour -(Presenteeism, Absenteeism, Underperforming staff, Constructive Feedback)

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Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang , Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Hi Ben, great technique, we used to use this all the time and getting them to come up with the solution helps with the ownership because it's no longer letting "you" down it's letting themselves down. It becomes dangerous when your employees just do things because you wanted them to.