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It all started when I noticed that an employee was in her supervisors office for far too long. Like many things in leadership, questions must be asked.

Why was she in the office for two hours, discussing a seemingly minor performance issue? She had made a minor clerical error that had been committed by numerous employees over the years. A learning mistake, not a mistake of incompetence.

Her direct supervisor was taking a coaching/mentorship role while explaining the issue to her. His heart was in the right place by taking a good employee and trying to further her knowledge. Unfortunately, a good intention with a bad execution is still a negative outcome.

When she walked out of the office, she looked defeated. I could see it on her face, low morale at its finest. She had just endured a 2-hour lecture about a small clerical error that was unintentionally made. Sure, it needed to be addressed, but how?

I watched this same interaction with two other supervisors and their subordinates. I was witnessing an outdated model of addressing performance issues with employees.

Enter, the three sentence rule.

Generation Z has been well researched to show that they prefer face-to-face contact with their supervisors. The research further shows that the generation that grew up with twitter, likes to keep that interaction brief. In line with asking questions in reflective leadership, how many sentences does it take to address an issue?

  1. State what is wrong. 2. Explain how to fix it. 3. Ask if any clarification is needed.

This brief model of addressing problems may seem impersonal but if done correctly, directly speaks to what Generation Z values most; being genuine. Gone are the days of over-explaining things. The next generation is highly educated and has a strong capacity for being quick learners. Keep it brief, provide frequent feedback and above all else, be honest.