5 Tips for Correcting Behavior Issues in Employees

January 22, 2013

Stress Pencil

4. Focus on the error, not the person. Remember that it is the error (the behavior) that needs correction; the person is still of value to you. When possible, invite input from the individual who has made the mistake. In the previous example, you could ask, “What happened?” or “What can you do to prevent this from happening again?” or “What can you do to remedy this situation?”

Taking the time to ask an individual for input can provide helpful information as to why the error occurred and can help you design steps to prevent it from reoccurring. Asking for input also affirms that you see the employee as a person of value who can contribute to remedying the error. In this way, a learning opportunity emerges from the correcting process.

5. Avoid holding grudges. The correction process is one of moving forward, not of rehashing old mistakes and holding grudges. Doing so only wastes the precious resources of time, energy, and self-esteem. Develop the personal discipline to forgive mistakes.

You want to correct behavior so that progress toward your goals can continue. These techniques are essential if you want to minimize the frequency and impact of errors. No one is perfect and errors will occur. However, one measure of your effectiveness in motivating employees is the manner in which you correct their mistakes. Effective correction strengthens your authority and the respect that others have for you.

You are the department head for an administrative group that sometimes experiences bottlenecks as a result of all the paperwork that must be completed. As a result, there are instances of paperwork being completed incorrectly, late, or not at all. To remedy the situation, you have tried yelling, threatening, and publicly denouncing the offenders during staff meetings. You realize that a new approach is warranted. How could you more constructively handle the situation to correct the problem with the paperwork?


  1. Losing your temper
  2. Sarcasm
  3. Yelling
  4. Profanity
  5. Public reprimands
  6. Threats
  7. Humiliation
  8. Inconsistent actions

–Text adapted by Christina Parisi from Goal Setting by Susan B. Wilson and Michael S. Dobson.

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About The Author

Susan B. Wilson (Stevensville, MI) is a coach, facilitator, and writer, as well as the President of Executive Strategies, a firm that aids organizations in goal setting, leadership, and team building. Michael S. Dobson (Bethesda, MD) has over twenty years of experience in project management, and is a business writer. He was part of the team that built the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.


  1. avatar

    […] management is a key facet of leadership. In her article “5 Tips for Correcting Behavior Issues in Employees,” expert Susan B. Wilson provides guidance […]

  2. avatar

    Yes! Not to mention it’s more fun–and challenging–to solve a problem than to try to obliterate it. We’ve come a long way in the past fifty years in developing a more humane workplace, and that shows up in living standards. Articles like this are both cause and effect of that trend. Keep ’em coming. Thanks.

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