Conducting Performance-Related Discussions
by Marnie Green
The following is an excerpt from Painless Performance Evaluations: A Practical Approach to Managing Day to Day Employee Performance.
When an employee's performance is not meeting your expectations or when the employee is struggling to achieve their performance goals, it's your job to immediately address the issue with the employee. Before you begin these sometimes-difficult conversations, take the time to ask yourself a few critical questions. Your responses will provide you with the confidence to discuss the issue with the employee.
What is the employee doing that is not meeting your standards or the organization's expectations? You should be able to answer this question in very specific, behavioral terms. If the problem is the employee's "attitude," stop right there. You must be able to offer specific, behavioral examples so the employee knows clearly what they should stop or start doing. Being "unmotivated" is not specific. Turning in work after an agreed upon deadline is specific. When you focus on attitudes, the employee is likely to argue with you, since the attitude is not as tangible as the behavior. When addressing performance-related issues in the workplace, it is critical that you focus on behaviors.
What behavior do you want the employee to use more or use less? If the employee is not doing something in the manner that is expected, what do you prefer be done instead? If you can't state your expectations clearly, in behavioral terms, how can you expect the employee to be able to meet those expectations? "Paying more attention to detail" may be your expectation but it is clearer to share your expectation with a statement such as, "I expect that there will be no grammatical or typographical errors in the report." If you can't state your expectations clearly, you are expecting the employee to read your mind.
How will addressing the issue and changing the behavior improve productivity, safety, confidentiality, or other critical factors? If there is not a compelling reason for the employee to change their ways, why should they change? We all need to know the "why" behind any change that affects us. If you can't give a reason why the employee should behave differently, then you probably should not bring up the issue. The reason for change should be linked to the organization's needs rather than your own personal needs. For example, the employee with poor customer service behaviors impacts the organization by driving away highly valued customers.
Before beginning your next performance-related conversation, review these questions and prepare yourself for a productive and painless discussion.
Marnie Green may be contacted at http://www.managementeducationgroup.com
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