Join Britt Andreatta for an in-depth discussion in this video Addressing performance problems, part of Management Foundations (2013).
Giving performance feedback can be an entire course on its own. Ideally your organization's performance management process clearly outlines how performance issues are handled. If so, then you would implement that process as instructed. Obviously there are legal implications for performance discussions, so I strongly encourage you to consult with your HR and legal professionals. They're there to help you navigate these situations successfully, so take advantage of their guidance. Performance problems very rarely just develop overnight, they usually build from small situations.
Part of your role as a manager is to address issues early so that they don't become a problem. Let's look at how you do that. First, start off with clarity. At the moment someone becomes your direct report, you should have a discussion about these key items. The main elements of their performance. This would be an overview of their job duties. How you'll measure that performance. Talk about what data or markers you'll use to measure their success and at what intervals. How and when you'll communicate both praise and problems.
This might include formal reviews and informal meetings. And the performance improvement process. Discuss how and when an employee will learn that they need to improve, and how long they'll have to do so. If employees are at will talk about what that means too. Honestly if every manager had this conversation with their employees, it would go a long way to solving things. Second, honor the plan. You have to meet the standard you create. As the manager it's your responsibility to drive the process for performance feedback and reviews.
So provide feedback when you said you would using the measures of progress that you already outlined. Third, address concerns immediately. If you're even wondering a little about an employee's performance, it's time to speak up. It's far better to address things early because that's when you have the greatest chance to make things change. Since you're addressing things early, you'll use language like, "Lately I've noticed that," or "I'm wondering if we've had a miscommunication because." You don't want to make any assumptions about your employees' behavior but you do want to bring up your questions and concerns.
Ask them for their perspective too. You may discover something important, like the need for some training, or even a lack of clarity on your part. Your goal here is to help them improve. They may need some coaching or more direct guidance from you to get going in the right direction. Be sure you wrap up with the clear understanding of what needs to change and by when. You really want to ground the conversation with a clear action plan. You cannot be too specific about what actions or behaviors you need to see occur, and when you expect them to be done.
And of course it's always a good idea to keep a file with your notes. Fourth, stay on top of issues until they're resolved. The employee will either respond to your feedback or they won't. The vast majority will get things back on track. If they course correct quickly, be sure you acknowledge their efforts, that's a really important part of the process. But for a handful, they'll still be going astray. At this point have another meeting to discuss your new observations and your concern that they did not make the agreed upon changes. The tone of this meeting should be more serious.
Arrive at a new agreement with clear goals and timelines. If they shift, praise their efforts. Sometimes issues continue to arise. When that happens clearly mark that they're moving into problem territory. The biggest mistake that managers make is assuming that their employee knows when they're in trouble. It doesn't matter how many times you've talked with them. They won't know until you say the words. Something like, "This is becoming a problem, "you need to address this or you'll experience "the following consequences," and then spell those out.
Tell them if it's going to affect their performance review, raise, or ability to stay with the company. It's better to shock them into action with firmness than wait too long when they can't recover. If you're clear and strong you'll know for sure that you gave them every opportunity to fix it. In the case that they don't, you'll be more at peace if you have to let them go. Also when things move into problem territory, get support. Work with someone in HR to ensure that you're taking all of the appropriate actions. There are often very specific stipulations you need to meet in terms of communication and documentation.
Ultimately the goal of giving performance feedback is to help people be their best. It's part of maximizing their potential and guiding their professional development. Your job is to give them clear information and the opportunity to do their best. The rest is up to them.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Choosing a management style
- Hiring employees
- Coaching employees
- Managing team performance
- Establishing trust
- Motivating and engaging others
- Delegating responsibilities
- Avoiding micromanagement
- Managing remote employees
- Knowing HR regulations<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.