Culture Bites Podcast - 003 Behaviour Blind Spots

Published on 01 May 2018

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In this episode of the podcast, we answer a letter from a listener who is trying to have development conversations with their direct report but the report just doesn’t seem to be able to recognise their own improvement areas. Below is the letter as well as some key tips and takeaways from the episode.

If you have a question you’d like us to answer, email

“Dear Culture Bites,

One of my team consistently assesses her abilities as being above average and exceptional. While she is driven and a skilled professional, I regularly need to intervene and identify areas for improvement – highlighting that she is on par (at most) with where she should be given her experience and time with the company. Aside from raising concrete examples, how do you alter the perception of an employee and create awareness that is in line with your own?”

Microphone  Key Takeaways and Ideas

Speak to the Pattern of Behaviour – Not the Individual Example
The issue isn’t the content of what happened today, the issue is that it has happened time and time again. If you get sucked into the example it can become a point-counter-point conversation where they defend the specific example rather than see the broader pattern. 

Be Clear on Your Standards
You need to be really clear about what you expect and how their performance is being assessed. Most position descriptions are just a laundry list of activities, instead, update it with what a positive contribution and outcomes look like. Set different levels for novice, proficient, and excellent. Ask your team member to interview their stakeholders in order to gather feedback on what an excellent performance looks like. Use this new position description as a tool to have the discussion around performance and raise issues.

Don’t Save it up
Before needing to ‘step in’ – create casual conversations before that point which are just about ‘let’s talk about your role, I’m interested in how you’re finding it…’ Use it as an opportunity to say ‘this is what I’m seeing, this is what I’ve noticed.’ Feedback isn’t about needing people to prove themselves once or twice a year at annual review time. Tracking performance and having frequent conversations about growth, and goals, will keep you and your team in the Achievement space. 

Don’t put a spin on it
Being constructive isn’t about being ‘nice’. Don’t sugar coat something that’s a problem. We’ve got to stop thinking about how to go softly-softly and instead be respectfully-straight. It takes a lot of pressure off you if you’re not trying to ‘make it ok’ for them. It’s very natural to feel uncomfortable with those conversations but brushing it under the carpet only makes it worse – frustration builds and boils over.


Do you have a question you need some help with? Write into us at

Other episodes and Show Notes:
001: Kick Starting a Passive Team
002: Dealing with Delegation

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Culture Bites Podcast is Copyrighted © by Human Synergistics Australia 2018. All Rights Reserved.