Influential managers wisely choose to coach their employees towards performance improvement rather than demanding immediate change. Coaching a struggling employee helps them refocus, improves their motivation, enhances their confidence, and unleashes their performance potential. Here are four reminders to help managers confront an employee's declining performance.
Focus on Performance Obstacles.
Managers who provide timely coaching and feedback to employees help identify performance barriers before they become a problem. Regularly scheduled performance conversations are known to increase mutual rapport, build trust and provide opportunities to resolve issues as they arise. We understand that confronting poor performance may be uncomfortable; however, choosing not to do so only delays a must-have conversation, exacerbating the performance issue. Confer with a trusted peer or a human resource professional to draft talking points and practice the dialogue. Avoiding the discussion will not make the problem go away.
Focus on the Cause.
Managers must directly discuss the issue or behavior that has caused some concern. A direct and respectful approach focused on solutions and improvement creates a pathway towards success. Managers must be willing to encourage and guide the employee towards eliminating the cause and returning the employee's performance to an acceptable standard.
Managers must discuss their observations directly with the employee. Is the employee experiencing burnout? Did you communicate unclear expectations? Have you observed a notable change in the employee's disposition or behavior? Allow the employee sufficient time to express their perspectives and concerns. Talk and talk some more until the cause of the declining performance is identified. If appropriate, schedule a second meeting to continue the discussion.
Focus on the Solution.
Once you and your employee identify the cause of the declining performance, coach the employee to develop a written improvement plan. The written improvement plan must include:
(a) agreed-upon criteria for improved performance,
(b) timetable to measure progress,
(c) regularly scheduled check-in discussions,
(d) flexibility to tweak the plan, and
(e) consequences if the employee does not improve their performance.
Document the written plan, date it, sign it, file it, and revisit it! This step is critical to monitor progress and remind both parties of what they discussed. If the performance does not improve, the documented written plan will become part of the termination plan.
Adapt and Change Your Style
Performance evaluation and improvement plans have shifted away from the rigid and ritualist approaches over the past years. The year 2020 brought unimaginable change with significantly less in-person interaction with employees in exchange for virtual work environments. We had to find new ways to engage and become more connected to employees. It is more important now than ever to know each employee's personality before starting a performance improvement discussion. Applying the same approach for each employee will likely not yield the positive results you seek. Customize and individualize your style to reduce stress and invite calm.
Learn How with Pinnacle HR Consulting, LLC
Pinnacle HR Consulting, LLC has guided many clients through performance improvement plans and performance improvement discussions. We are at our best when addressing human resources needs with tailored solutions, the right balance of talent, support, and technology. Contact us today to discover how we can benefit your organization!