Confronting a Poor Performer
Performance management makes up a significant part of every manager's job, and this includes dealing with poor performance.
Managers often view this as one of the less desirable responsibilities that come with their job – because too often our perception of managing a poor performer is clouded by thoughts of tense, uncomfortable situations that may result in finger pointing, anger and denial.
These 5 Tips will help when confronting a poor performing employee:
1. Change your perception
If you believe that you have to put yourself and your employee through an awkward and stressful event to effectively confront poor performance – you should tear down that perception of the process and reimagine it!
The simple fact is that managing poor employee performance should not be a huge event; it should be quick and relatively pain free, for both the manager and the employee, and something that's done incrementally at the first sign of a deviation in 'expected' behaviour.
When poor performance goes unaddressed for long periods of time, as too often it does, it can become a major problem and grow into a situation that can blow out of control.
2. Deal with it!
Poor performance that is not addressed quickly by the manager is in reality seen by the employee as being condoned.
This is because people respect what you 'inspect', not what you expect!
Consequently, your people pay attention to what you pay attention to.
At the first sign of a deviation in performance, managers too often ask themselves, "What's wrong with that person?" But as soon as we do that, we have a tendency to personally blame the employee and possibly even attack them verbally.
So regardless of personal likes or dislikes, managers must work on being objective, focus on the behaviour (not the personality) and ask, "Why are they not performing as they should be?"
3. Never confront in anger
Do not let this become an emotional situation. Stay rational. Stay balanced.
Do whatever you need to do to get your emotions in check before confronting the employee; maybe its walking around the block, counting to ten or having a coffee.
4. Do it immediately
Take however long you need to get your emotions together, but as soon as you've done that, confront the poor performing employee – without delay.
Failure to confront immediately is what causes so much anxiety around the idea of confronting poor performance.
When you let inappropriate actions continue unaddressed for too long before confronting them, the situation can get out of control.
When managers consistently confront immediately at the first sign of behaviour deviation, the process of managing poor performance will be painless – and potentially even gratifying!
5. Do it in private
This doesn't automatically mean going into your office and shutting the door, just don't do it within earshot of other staff. You don't need to turn it into a big event!
In fact, confronting poor performance can be done quite casually, for example, at the water cooler or while getting a coffee or even walking down the corridor.
Many times, taking the employee into your office and closing the door can create a tense atmosphere – the same tension that has given such a stigma to the process of managing poor performance – before you even say a word!
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