Effective Communication Karin Hurt and David Dye

How to Inspire Behavior Change

You’ve tried everything, and the bad behavior continues. You don’t want to say “You need to change this behavior or else,” but the truth is–there will be consequences. Keep that “feedback-is-a-gift-and-I-care-about-you” loving feeling in mind, while having a direct conversation about specifically what must change. Don’t linger. Don’t sandwich. Do document.

The INSPIRE Method

Use the INSPIRE method to have a short, to the point, specific conversation about what must change.

I-  Initiate

Initiate the conversation in a respectful manner. Traditional feedback models always start with “asking for permission.” Most of the time that’s an awesome start. Sometimes, though, the conversation isn’t optional. You may need to be more direct.

“I need to talk to you today.  Is this a convenient time?”

N- Notice

Share your concern or observation.

“I’ve noticed there are paint drips on the floor when you leave a job.”

Or, “In listening to your calls, I’ve noticed you’re not really making a connection with the customer.”

S- Support

Provide supporting evidence.

“In the last two homes you painted, there was splattering on the hardwood in the dining room and on the rug in the baby’s room.”

Or, “When the customer told you they were calling to disconnect because their spouse had died, you didn’t express any empathy, you just said that you would be happy to disconnect the line.”

P- Provide

Provide specific suggestions on how the employee could improve.

“I suggest you put down a drop cloth every time you paint.  You should also use masking tape to protect drips on the molding.”

Or, “I suggest you stop to listen to what the customer is really saying, and pause and use an empathy statement before you jump right into action.”

I- Inquire

Ask one or two open ended questions to check for understand and one closed ended question to secure commitment.

“How would your results be better if you did that every time?”

“What concerns do you have about this approach?”

“Do I have your commitment to do that going forward?”

R- Review

Ask them to review what they are committing to do.

“Would you please recap what you’re going to differently next time?”

E- Enforce

Enforce the behavior and why it’s important, while reinforcing your confidence that they can do this.

“Using the drop cloth is a fundamental requirement of this job. In order for you to continue in this position you need to do a quality job.”

“I’m going to check back with you on your next three paint jobs (or calls) and look to ensure you keeping your commitment.”

“You are a very important member of this team and I have every confidence you can do this well.”

“Thank you.”

Often when behavior isn’t changing the feedback is too vague or the conversation goes so long, the employee forgets specifically what they need to do. Work to INSPIRE specific behavior change by using this easy technique.

Posted in Communication and tagged , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. I love all of your points, Karin!

    For me, positive feedback is one of the most effective. The ability to encourage new ideas and behavior is truly a talent! And walking next to a team member and giving them reinforcement and positive words can really make a huge difference…

    • LaRae, Thanks so very much. I’m condidering using this model in my new book Winning Well. I’m so open to ideas to take it to the next level.

  2. I love this approach Karin.

    It is so important to provide this type of structure for leaders to feel more confident in the difficult task of giving feedback to others and then following up.

    I have seen feedback backfire so many times due to poor scene setting, poor presentation, lack of evidence,absence of active listening and no follow up. This approach ticks all the boxes.

    For any leaders who have tried everything to master the art of feedback, we’ve systematised good practices into our online feedback platform with templates, documented records, adhoc peer to peer feedback and leader schedules (because let’s hope there is more goodness to recognise than behaviour to correct).

    This would be a great structure to use within the platform.

  3. I have been using the I.S.P.I.R.E. model to train supervisors to be better prepared to have a difficult conversation and not to put it off. In the session, we actually discuss a common scenario, say, an employee who continues to come to work late, and we then we walk through the steps in the I.N.S.P.I.R.E. model

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