Managing Performance…. having those difficult conversations

Posted by Roxanne Chugg

It should be simple…you have an employee who isn’t meeting the required level of performance so it is time to have a conversation. Yes the conversation might be difficult, no one likes to be told they need to improve but delay this and your working relationship has the potential to deteriorate and impact significantly on your other team members; they will see evidence of you not calling up the undesirable behaviour or the non performance and this impacts on them and the respect they have for you and your leadership and management skills.

It is important to plan for the meeting and be honest about what the issue is and what needs to occur to correct their performance.  Make sure you give the employee an opportunity to explain what might be impacting their performance, expect excuses but also be open to the possibility that there are some valid reasons as to why their performance has been below expectations.

The balance between managing performance and allowing the employee a reasonable opportunity to improve their performance can be a challenge. Indicate exactly what actions you require, ensure the employee has the required resources and set a timeframe for completion. As their manager you have the authority to direct an employee to perform tasks within their area of qualification and expertise, ensuring they are provided with the required resources and given a reasonable timeframe to complete the task.

Always document a performance management discussion – capture what was said, what was agreed and set a future date to follow up on what has been achieved, request that the employee signs the document as this will encourage them to engage with the process. Ensure that you follow up as discussed, often all it takes is a ‘one off’ conversation to highlight expectations and motivate for improved performance.

If other performance issues come to light following the initial meeting you will need to follow up on these as well – this is when it can become extremely difficult as the employee feels that they are being targeted. Unfortunately this can often occur if issues aren’t addressed when they occur and the ‘difficult conversation’ is delayed which in turn creates a number of performance issues rather than just one…. Be proactive about having difficult conversations around performance with your people.

Another key point…  Performance management when done correctly does not constitute bullying or harassment.