What do you do when employees take initiative and get something done with a lot of good will — but don’t do it exactly right?

This presents one of a manager’s trickiest challenges. You want to acknowledge what they tried to do, while at the same time guiding them to a slightly different approach.

How can you do that without fatally mixing your message?

Management trainer Keith Sanders suggests falling back on this acronym: LBNT. It stands for “Like Best” and “Next Time.”

As in, “What I like best about the way you wrote that report is that it’s really compact and concise,” followed by “Next time, why don’t you also include action suggestions for the next three months.”

Note that by using this phrasing, you avoid the deadly “but” that erases the savor of praise and leaves only the bitter taste of a talking-to in the employee’s mouth.

photo credit: andrew_j_w

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