How to have that difficult conversation
Preparing for performance reviews with your team should generally be a straight-forward process.
Typically, the steps include:
- Requesting the employee’s feedback on their own performance
- Gathering evidence, including things like sales figures, other KPIs/measurements, customer feedback, attendance records, etc.
- Completing your manager review
- Meeting with your employee to discuss the above, along with their personal development plan
- Finalising actions for the next review period
However, where you have a poorly performing employee, additional preparation is required. Here are our recommendations for approaching difficult conversations at performance reviews.
Be solution driven.
Any performance difficulties discussed need to conclude with an agreed way of moving forward so that every issue has a solution attached to it at the end of the discussion.
Use the phrase: “So, now that we have discussed this challenge, lets agree how to change this in the future…”
Keep the meeting on an equal footing.
Make certain that the meeting allows for the employee to feel that they are completely free to say what they want to – allow time and space for them to talk. If the meeting is not conducted on an equal footing, then half the communication (and much of the benefit) will be lost.
Discuss the differences.
Major differences between your manager review and the employee’s self-review highlight a gap in perception and understanding. The discussion will centre on why the perceptions are different and also what can be done to move the assessments up the scale.
Is it a problem of motivation or ability?
Ask questions to diagnose the root cause of the issue. Listen for whether it is a case of ‘can’t do’ or ‘won’t do’? Tailor the solution accordingly.
Discuss your role in improving the performance.
Are you helping or standing in the way of performance? Are you controlling too much or being too hands-off? Does the employee need more training? How can you can best support them to make positive changes?
Make a plan and follow up.
Agree and document the plan – what, who, and by when? Then don’t forget to follow-up. Too often a performance plan languishes unopened until the next review. Regular follow-up is essential to effect real change.
Following these guidelines should lead to a constructive conversation and the development of a quality action plan. Keen to learn more? Positive People run a Performance Management module as part of our popular Leadership Development Program. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 09 445 1077 to discuss our group or individual training and development solutions.