Performance Management is about the Conversation
by Marnie Green
Why is it that one of the most important parts of managing people is the part that is most often avoided or overlooked? Helping others be successful on the job is a core responsibility of managers. Yet, many managers avoid the tough conversations with employees.
Have you ever avoided a conversation with an employee about something because you were uncomfortable about bringing it up? Customer service issues, attendance, poor work quality, lack of teamwork. Those situations each call for exactly the conversations you should be having, not avoiding!
The next time you see an employee behavior that you believe needs to change and yet you feel that fear welling up in your chest remember to:
1. Define the behavior that is not productive. How are the person's actions impacting the work or other team members? The more job-specific you can be, the more objective the issue will sound.
2. Describe the behavior you expect. What should the person be doing instead of what they are doing now? Focus on the behaviors and not on the employee's attitude.
3. Focus on outcomes. Ask yourself, "What will happen if I talk with the employee about the behavior?" or "What will happen if I avoid having a conversation with the employee about the issue?" These questions will usually remind you that the issue will not be resolved or the behavior will not change until you initiate the conversation.
4. Just do it. Waiting for the "right time" to have what you believe is a difficult conversation only gives you an excuse to avoid the situation. Often, waiting to have the conversation only makes the situation worse. The sooner you initiate the conversation, the sooner the employee can improve their performance-- and the sooner you can move on to more pleasant things.
Sometimes just having the conversation is all that is needed to resolve workplace issues. Don't allow the human tendency to avoid conflict or "bad news" get in the way of doing what is required.
Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Arizona-based Management Education Group, Inc. She is the author of Painless Performance Evaluations: A Practical Approach to Managing Day to Day Employee Performance (Pearson/Prentice Hall). Green is a speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations develop leaders today for the workforce of tomorrow. Contact Green at http://www.managementeducationgroup.com