Don’t Call People Out. Instead, Do This!

Don’t Call People Out. Instead, Do This! image DATE: July 2, 2020

Many are quick to call people out. As a leader, every word you say matters. If you want your people to perform better, instead of calling people out, call them up…then watch them rise.

Don’t Call People Out. Instead, Do This!

Sure, there are a few outliers, but in general, most people reach for what is expected of them. Think about children…if their parent’s firm expectation is that they graduate from school, then most likely they will strive to meet that expectation. Think about employees…if the firm expectation is that they show up at 8:00 a.m., then most of them will strive to meet that expectation.

As human beings, we long to please. As leaders, it’s important that you pause before you call people out. It’s likely better if you call them up. Here’s what I mean…

Call Out

Hear me carefully, leaders must address employee issues in the workplace. My point here is that leaders must do it the right way if they want employee performance to actually improve in the future.

One way to address issues it to call people out. For example, Rachel is a good employee. She completes an assigned project, turns the final draft in, and you find incorrect data within it. You call Rachel into your office. You’re frustrated. You point out the incorrect work and tell her it is completely unacceptable performance. Ultimately, Rachel’s feelings are hurt. She returns to her desk embarrassed. She is unsure of where she stands with you now. She goes home and discusses the situation with friends and family. She decides to either:

1-Put her head down and keep going at work because she needs the job, all while never improving her performance much to speak of.

— or —

2- She decides to look for other employment opportunities.

Either way, it’s a loss for you. Rachel is a good employee.

Calling people out, even when done in private, if not handled extremely carefully can leave a leader with declining employee performance, or worse, in the future. Avoid the mistake of calling people out. Instead, call them up.

Call Up

Again, leaders should never avoid confronting the truth and dealing with issues. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

We know that people, in general, are inclined to rise to meet expectations. So, instead of calling people out, call them up.

Using the same situation in the above example of Rachel…instead of bringing her into your office and calling her out on what she did wrong and why it is unacceptable, try calling her up. Tell the story of the expectation you have…the bright future you see and believe for her. When you paint that picture in her head, she will know in that moment and when she returns to her desk, exactly where she stands with you as her leader. From there, she will likely work to meet that expectation even more. Once you’ve called her up, show her how her mistake could keep her from reaching the goal. Finish by offering your help in whatever way she needs.

Leaders who focus on calling people up, empower employees to improve their performance!

Little Changes, Massive Difference

You are only as successful as the people you lead. It doesn’t take much to flip the script on your future as a leader — it could be as simple as calling up versus calling out. The words you say, no matter how small it may seem, make a massive difference in how your employees feel about your leadership. By choosing to call people up — instead of calling them out — employees will learn to trust you, respect you, and become more loyal to you.  Trust, respect, and loyalty…that’s a recipe for leadership success!


Need your leadership team to perform better?  I can help. Let’s talk.


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About The Author:

Alyson Van Hooser, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Trainer on Millennials, Gen Z & Women in Business With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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