Running a business is never simple. There will always be issues, even if you have a brilliant staff of highly qualified and trained personnel.
Discussing poor performance with an employee is a conversation that every manager or employer dread, but it is also one of those conversation that we have to eventually face no matter how hard we try to avoid it. There are a number of reasons why having “the talk” is difficult. Most employer prefer to avoid conflict, and it’d obviously be ideal if every employee was always totally engaged and productive. However, even while discussing bad performance with an employee might be challenging, it can also be an opportunity to learn.
So here are 10 tips we have put together on how to discuss poor performance with an employee.
Don’t put it off
Understandably, many of us defer uncomfortable confrontations but delaying a necessary discussion about an employee’s performance especially if it’s negatively impacting your company may imply that you’re accepting or indifferent of the lackluster effort of the employee. This might give the impression that the employee can get away with doing nothing, or even less.
The employee, on the other hand, can just be ignorant of your displeasure and end up being shocked or taken off guard when you finally approach them.
Document it in writing
Prepare for your discussion by writing down everything you’d like to say to the employee. You should also make arrangements to document or record the conversation. Provide the employee with a copy of the documents so they know what to expect and can later reflect on the discussion.
Often, after talking to an employee about their poor performance, managers will craft an employee performance improvement plan (PIP). This document includes detailed information about what the employer expects from the employee going forward, as well as specific goals, benchmarks, and proposed solutions or resources to assist the employee.
Provide specific examples of poor performance
Cite concrete instances of your employee’s subpar performance to substantiate your argument rather than keeping the conversation general. This will not only make it clear to the worker precisely where they need to improve, but it will also cover your bases as the employer and guard against reprisals.
Instead than merely suggesting that a worker “wastes company time,” take note of specific occasions when the worker routinely arrives late or takes longer breaks than permitted.
Don’t accuse or attack
While it’s crucial to maintain your ground, avoid framing the conversation as an accusation or an assault. Allow the discussion to be just that a discussion and avoid turning it into a lecture.
Give your staff time to reply and provide their perspective after expressing your concerns. They can be experiencing burnout or overwork, or they might be dealing with a personal problem at home. Work together to develop a shared strategy for a moving forward solution while being sympathetic and open to listening.
Use the correct language
It’s crucial to use the appropriate language when discussing an employee’s subpar performance with them. Don’t make any accusations about your staff, and always start from a stance of support. Also, don’t use yourself as a crutch to soften the shock. Instead, maintain an open mind and give your employee the freedom to voice any demands or concerns they may have.
Phrases to use
Here are some specific phrases to use when discussing poor performance with an employee:
- “We want you to succeed.”
- “How can we help you succeed?”
- “Do you have any feedback for us?”
- “Is there anything we are doing that is making it difficult for you at work?”
- “We feel there’s been a shift in your performance; how can we best support you?”
- “Do you feel you are set up for success at work?”
- “Are there any resources or tools you think might be helpful?”
Phrases to avoid
Here are some specific phrases to avoid when discussing poor performance with an employee:
- “This is probably just as much our fault as yours.”
- “We feel you are too [emotional, rigid, anxious, etc.]”
- “You always [do this.]”
- “You never [do that.]”
- “What are you going to do to improve your performance?”
- “Is your [disability/condition] causing you to underperform?”
Provide solutions — and be open to their suggestions
Approach these discussions with a solution-based perspective rather than entering them with the intention to denigrate the employee or jeopardize their security at your organization. Ask the employee what they think will help them improve while also bringing up potential ideas that would benefit both parties. Be prepared to hear them out and meet them halfway. Perhaps they require additional instruction or time for particular activities. Make the extra effort necessary to offer that assistance.
Ultimately, having the “talk” is never the easiest or most pleasant conversation we can have with an employee. But viewing the process as an opportunity for growth for the employee and ourselves can help us craft a dialogue that truly identifies root cause, finds solutions, and sets us up to do our best work.
SWHR has been helping companies to build their teams and values for over 10 years. Contact us to find out more about our unique services and see how our expertise can benefit you.