For many, the word redirection translates to, “Uh oh—big trouble.” For some, the idea of a redirection can seem the equivalent of a dismissal, separation, or firing.
That’s a limiting perception. The job of managing people includes managing roles, goals, and day-to-day performance. Redirection is a part of that process.
In some ways it’s like flying airplanes where flight plans are set and frequent corrections in the air keep the airplane on course. The goal is a smooth flight that will arrive at the desired destination safely. But a surprise bout of turbulence may force the plane to change altitude to find smoother air space.
The same is true in the workplace. We all hope for a smooth ride in the course of achieving our goals but people sometimes experience turbulence and need “in-flight” corrections, too. This type of correction is what I call redirection.
A Closer Look at Redirection
A redirection is used for learners in a “can’t do” situation, not in a “won’t do” situation. With constantly evolving priorities, technology, and demands, many a worker is learning something new every day. Add in unclear vision, goals, or roles, and a worker can fall behind or make mistakes.
How should a new manager approach a person who needs redirection? Ken Blanchard shares a five-step process in his bestselling book, Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships.
Here are Ken’s five steps for redirection:
Describe the error objectively, without blame and without drama. Example: “Your report was two hours late.” No eye-rolling, desk-pounding, or sarcasm. Just the facts.
Describe the negative impact of the error. Example: “As a result, I had to cancel an important meeting because I did not have the data I needed in time.” Again, no emotion. Just the facts.
If appropriate, take the blame for not being clear. Example: “I was giving you a lot of direction about several projects at once. Perhaps I wasn’t clear about the absolute deadline for your report.” This is an important step and can be a powerful, face-saving, loyalty-building action to take. It’s entirely possible that a new manager was not clear or specific enough.
Go over the task or goal again. Example: “To be sure that I am clear this time, let me review with you what I need and when I must have it. I need….” It’s important to give very specific information and also to get agreement that what you are asking for is possible.
Express continued trust and reaffirm your belief in the person’s abilities. Example: “Now that we have talked about this, I’m sure we’ll have no problem next time.” People need to know that an error will not permanently taint them.
It’s normal to occasionally get off course—especially when you are learning a new skill or taking on new goals and projects. Redirection is a natural part of the process even though it can be uncomfortable at times. As Winston Churchill said, “I am always ready to learn, but I do not always like being taught.” When a correction is required, this 5-step redirection can get things back on track.