There comes a time when every Manager needs to sit down with a staff member and give feedback. Sometimes this is to tell a person their performance is good and to encourage them to keep up the good work. Most Managers don’t find this all that hard as it is good news they are delivering. Where it gets challenging is the situations where we have to tell someone their performance is not up to scratch and change is needed. These encounters don’t have to fill Manager’s with dread and should be approached from a positive position. Performance management ultimately rests on our ability to conduct such sessions well. The key is to ensure some fundamental steps are followed:
- Ensure that the issue up for discussion is made clear at the outset and there can be no doubt about what is to be covered. Incredibly, some staff often remain unsure about what they are being spoken to about! Don’t let such confusion occur. Start the discussion with open agreement about the performance issue that is to be addressed. There can sometimes be challenges in getting people to acknowledge there is a problem at all. This needs to occur before we can move on to any solution.
- Agree on the long-term objectives that are to be covered in the feedback session. If someone is arriving at work late, then the goal to be achieved is a return to correct hours of attendance. In this way, there is a clear expectation set and something tangible to work towards.
- Cover the reality of the current situation. This means explaining your own concerns and then inviting the staff member to respond to the issues that have been raised. This will get their perspective on it and what they might do to address the problem. Be sure to use questioning to investigate all aspects of the situation, which may uncover facts which will be useful in finding a solution.
- Look at options. The best approach to performance management is to follow a non-directive approach in which the person who needs to improve their performance is invited to come up with solutions of their own. In the case of someone coming to work late, they should be asked for ideas as to how they can ensure they arrive at work on time, rather than just being told to do so. This approach empowers them to solve the problem rather than just being told what to do. There will be cases where a more directive approach is needed, but it is better to start with the assumption that they can address the issue (with some help from the Manager when required.
- Agree on the course of action to be taken and then ensure that you are able to provide ongoing support, via monitoring of performance. This follow up means that people can be held to account for the things that were agreed upon.
The provision of adverse feedback is too crucial a task to be left to chance. Employing steps like this gives us a framework in which to work with people and bring about positive change which will benefit them and the workplace.