How to have the Difficult Conversations to Manage Poor Performance

Many surveys suggest that during the economic downturn companies tolerated underperformance due to a lack of time or money to engage in an effective performance management process.  What some of these companies are now finding is that it is more difficult to address low performance for the following reasons:

  • The line manager had not followed the standard appraisal process due to a lack of time or inclination
  • Appraisals or performance reviews had not been conducted for a number of years
  • There is no documentation regarding any ongoing underperformance
  • There is only ‘hearsay’ or someone’s word about alleged incidents of poor working relationships, interpersonal disputes or malpractice
  • No direct feedback has been given to the individual regarding under performance
  • No objectives or KPIs had been set
  • Very few face to face 1:1s had taken place
  • Line managers were avoiding having the difficult conversations

Although HR advise Line Managers that they need to conduct regular 1:1s and performance reviews with their team members in order for employees to feel motivated and understand where they need to improve, frequently this does not happen.  So many employees bemoan the fact that they only get the opportunity to discuss their roles and progression with their manager once a year, sometimes over an informal coffee. A large proportion of team members are reported to have missed their last 3 appraisals due to their line managers’ workload.

Giving regular positive and constructive feedback is such an important and straight forward way to create discretionary performance and motivate individuals. Any regular incidences of poor performance should be explored and documented if appropriate. During this Development Module your managers will learn and practise the most effective ways of having a difficult conversation and many tools and techniques to deliver constructive feedback.