3-week surge

The 3-Week Surge

When coaching business leaders on how to hold their team members accountable for achieving the agreed level of performance (results/behaviors/quality standards), I have noticed a common trap that managers fall victim to. A colleague of mine calls it, “The 3-week surge”.

Here’s how it typically plays out. A team member exhibits below-standard performance e.g.

Metrics/KPIs are in the red, or
– Projects and tasks are overdue, or
– Work quality is below the required standard

After coaching from me, the manager learns how to deliver constructive feedback, and gathers the courage to confront the team member about their performance.

At our next coaching session, the manager enthusiastically reports back to me that the employee’s performance has improved and the intervention has been a success!

“Not so fast!” I say. A one-time “clearing conversation” often creates a temporary spike in performance, the so-called “3-week surge”. But invariably, without further coaching, the person reverts back to their default mode of operating.

I have a saying that I share with clients, “Business execution is 20% getting clear about what needs to be done, and 80% following up to make sure it actually gets done”. In the above scenario, giving the person critical feedback on their below-standard performance was only 20% of the manager’s job.

To ensure the feedback “sticks”, the manager must monitor performance and provide ongoing feedback and coaching for the team member during their weekly 1 on 1 meetings over the next 90 days to ensure true behavioral change takes place.

Don’t be fooled by the 3-week surge. Come back to me in 3 months and tell me whether or not the problem is truly solved.

Until next time…