When you think about having ‘the’ conversation do you get uncomfortable? Possibly avoid them all together?
Here are a few tips to remember for the current conversation you need to have and any others that may come along:
- Make sure you have a coaching/communication practice in place for every direct report. Whether you meet monthly, bi-monthly or weekly, a consistent schedule of connecting with directs helps to avoid any surprises.
- On your coaching/communication agenda include KPI’s for measurable outcomes, action items and progress and developmental goals. Again, meeting with team members consistently and having clear, measurable outcomes we track lead to much more timely and effective performance conversations.
- Focus on the facts. When you have to have ‘the conversation’, make sure you lead with WHAT happened or didn’t happen, rather than your opinion, assumptions or perspective of what did or didn’t happen. Focus on evidence and facts.
- Explain the impact of the facts. What did or didn’t happen because of their performance gap? How did their outcomes influence their performance, the team’s performance and the organization as a whole? Tying measurable outcomes to performance/impact is key.
- Ask for their perspective and insight. If you are leading with facts, this doesn’t have to be tough. They may disagree with a whole lot of what you say, but the good news is, if we base feedback in facts, there’s not much there to wiggle around in. Let them have their say, but don’t worry about proving yourself right. Let the facts speak for themselves.
- Explain the consequence if their performance doesn’t improve. This doesn’t have to be that they will get fired. It could mean that they stop working on a particular project or they don’t get the same shift they’ve had, etc. if there isn’t any skin in the game for them to improve, it’s likely they won’t. AND don’t set up a consequence you aren’t likely to follow through on. (Think of this famous line “If you don’t stop it back there I’m going to turn this car around and we won’t be going to Disneyland!” (yeah, right!))
- Create a follow up plan to revisit performance. Book the time and date right then and there. AND make sure you follow through with your follow up. There’s nothing better than the chance to offer positive feedback when they start trending well!
- Document the conversation. It could be a quick email or something more substantive if it’s been an ongoing issue.
If the employee you need to meet with is a tough one, I strongly recommend using this outline and writing out what you want to say and cover in advance. The more times you use this outline, the easy it will be to follow and utilize in your conversations.
Mostly, please tell people when they aren’t performing and when they are. Feedback is an essential tool for leading effective, successful teams. Some of our conversation can be toughies, but with a good outline and plan, you can do it!!