Compassion – using a sandwich

Sometimes leaders confuse compassion with accepting under performance, for example, Jack has a sick child and is constantly missing deadlines. To ensure the project gets finished on time other staff are forced to work late. The boss Susie, believes she is being compassionate allowing this to continue.  This is not compassion. This is foolishness.

When one person is not pulling their load, other staff will become disenchanted. In time all jobs will suffer.

A leader’s responsibility is to help the company succeed, this means looking after everyone with equal fairness. Compassion is applied by accepting the person’s situation and then helping them to lift their game. It is applied through the tool of performance review.

A compassionate performance review is conducted using the sandwich method:

Top slice: You start by describing all the things you value in the person: Be specific. Maybe they are terrific at planning; produce creative solutions;  always remember the courtesies (like birthdays and who has coffee with sugar). Outline how these attributes impact you and / or the company. In this way you remind yourself that the person is more than the problem, as well as open their ears to what comes next.

The filling. You DEAR them. Describe the specific situation where they did not meet the standard needed. Express the impact of their behaviour on the leader, the company, colleagues and so on. Assert the performance that is required in the future. Reinforce the WIIF them, outlining the benefits they will get they act in the way that you want.

During this conversation the reasons for the poor performance must be explored, and a solution  found that addresses the problem and not just the symptoms.

In this case Jack may agree to reduce his hours until his child improves. Susie and Jack are partners in Jack’s success so Susie commits to keeping the job open, touching base with him every fortnight to see how things are going. Recognising they are partners makes it easier for Susie to speak and act compassionately.

The end slice: Susie will end the review reminding Jack of the situations where he has risen to tough challenges before and succeeded. This is to inspire confidence, remind Jack that Susie sees his value, and to keep the relationship strong so that if Jack gets into difficulties that may compromise the company he will come to her without delay.

As leaders it is our responsibility to ensure our people fulfil their obligations. When we manage with compassion we help our people thrive. Success then becomes easier and more enjoyable for all of us.

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Some earlier posts:
–> Let us all thrive
–>Foolish invitations
–> Care don’t cure
–> Everything is normal

Jennifer is a business and executive coach who helps leaders use the wisdom of their heart to turn their strategies into remarkable results. Call her to discuss your needs +61 439 520 182.