When performance issues arise in the workplace stop and think before you interact with an employee.  Here is a simple plan that can produce impressive results.  Just follow the ABCs.

Ask questions:  Rather than interpreting the outcome e.g. “Well the customer is upset, you must have screwed up the order”, try engaging in a dialogue.  Joe at Acme seems to have a concern about the last order, what can you tell me about the situation?

Build Trust: Trust is critical if you expect to find out what is really going on by asking questions.  If the employee fears that they will get in trouble they may “bend” the facts a little to mitigate any personal risk.  Affirming that you know they are trying their best to take care of customers is a good start at building trust and reducing any defensive behavior.

Clarify performance expectations: Most performance problems are simply a result of confusion about some critical element in the process.  Referring back to step #1, by asking employees questions 3 things happen; you find out what they know, you find out what they don’t know, you find out what you don’t know.

For a great example of how this process works, download my free E-Book Get A.G.R.I.P. on Business Performance.