Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Who doesn't love an OREO?

As a kid, I was a big fan of the OREO cookie. Like many people, the middle was where I focused my efforts. (Please note: I was NOT a fan of the Double Stuf OREO, where the adage "too much of a good thing" rang totally true with me.) And while it was fun to eat the cookie in separate parts, it wouldn't have been an OREO unless it had those two chocolate cookies bookending the filling. Who knew that an indulgence such as the OREO would later find its place on the blog?

Stay with me, here. Think about how you handle employee counselings, evaluations, and other opportunities for improvement in the workplace. I've mentioned before that no one really enjoys being the bad guy (despite what he/she may claim). As a result, our desire to be nice, friendly and come out with a good feeling in a situation that normally doesn't lend itself to that means that we sometimes sugarcoat the situation. That approach does not serve anyone very well. Enter the OREO.

Allow me to use my husband, once again, as an example. He's getting play in this entry because (1) he's the one who coined "OREO Approach" to me, and (2) a recent situation provides a great example for how to use the OREO Approach.

Think about starting off your opportunity with something positive: "You're doing a really good job driving the car. You've improved a lot since we got it."

Then get into the heart of the opportunity: "When driving a straight, try your best to ensure that the clutch is either in or out. Holding it somewhere between can cause a lot of unnecessary wear."

Wrap it up with another positive: "Your hair looks great today."

Yes, this can be adapted to the workplace, and you may want to stay away from any hair comments. For example: "You're doing a much better job keeping me posted on the status of your projects. I appreciate that. I need you, though, to put that same effort into the details of your work, such as proofreading your memos before giving them to me. And thank you for handling the telephone call from John Smith so professionally. That type of assistance is very valuable to me."

Too often, it's the "middle" that keeps our attention, and we forget that the "cookies" are also necessary. The same is true with our approach to counseling. We get caught up in what is wrong and can forget that we need to include what is correct and being done well. I'm just as guilty as the next. The driving scenario used above was what my husband presented to me after I lost sight of using the OREO Approach and instead focused on my desire to curb him of riding the clutch.

Think about opportunities for you to employ the OREO Approach in your worklife. And if you need to keep a bag at your desk to remind you to use it, well, that's a sacrifice you'll just have to make.

Happy dunking!

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