Help for Those Tough Conversations About Performance
Today’s post was written by Carol Pollack, vice president of finance & operations.
While it is not the case this year, in the course of my career there have been times when I have dreaded the beginning of a new year because it meant discussing the prior year’s performance with someone whose results did not meet expectations. I realized that I was not the only person to feel this way when over the last month or so I saw several publications that provided tips for making this easier. Here are a few I found interesting.
Why Has Performance Slipped?
Two key elements of performance are ability and motivation. In assessing performance that is not as strong as we would have liked we should determine the answers to these two questions:
- Does the employee have the training and knowledge to perform the tasks in question?
- Does the employee want to do the job? Does he understand why the tasks are important and are the proper rewards in place to increase motivation?
Knowing the answers to these questions can help us target improvement efforts and prepare for our discussion with them.
Giving Great Feedback
They noted that “useful” feedback can motivate employees to do their best work. We can accomplish this by employing these techniques:
- Focus your comments on helping the employee to do a better job versus punishing.
- Be direct – Tell them what they need to do differently or do more of. Be specific and give examples.
- Stick to the facts – Don’t guess or assume why the other person is doing something. Use objective observations and facts.
- Be timely — ideally you have been giving ongoing feedback when the indicated performance was fresh in your minds so there should be no surprises and limited confusion.
- Be practical – Indicate no more than 3 to 5 steps and options that the employee can easily act on.
We’re not done yet! In fact, follow-up is where the rubber hits the road. We begin by quickly documenting the results of the coaching session. If it is an issue of skills development, we arrange for training to occur. We then observe their performance, give prompt feedback and recognize success, large and small, as soon as we see it. These steps will enhance the chance for success and keep the employee motivated to continue to improve.
These tips resonate with me and with some effort I think I can employ them. Do they work for you?
Image by © andrewgenn from Fotolia.com.