Addressing Performance Issues with Respect

Handling performance issues quickly is paramount. After all, your primary concern is to correct the problem and get the employee back on track as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean you have to be rude about it, however. Whenever dealing with employees, it is best to take a tactful approach which is based on respect.

Managers often put off such discussions because they’re afraid they may upset the employee. They don’t realize how detrimental their avoidance may be, as an employee who is left in the dark about their shortcomings will only continue in the same behavior which led to the problem in the first place. This is not the worker’s fault, as they have no way of knowing they are doing something wrong. It is the manager’s duty to inform them of their performance issues, discuss an appropriate course of action, and lay out the repercussions if they do not correct themselves in due time. The result will be a more productive, happy, and engaged employee who consistently contributes to the profitability of the company.

Here are some tips for effectively addressing performance issues while treating employees with respect:

• Keep discussions private. No one wants the entire workforce to know they haven’t been performing up to management’s expectations.
• Honor your employee’s time. Don’t ask them to come to your office at 9:00 am, only to make them wait until 9:30. If something comes up and you need to postpone the discussion, let them know so they aren’t left waiting – and wondering.
• Focus on the performance, not the person. Don’t let the conversation devolve into an attack on the employee themselves. The employee will respond defensively and the discussion may quickly escalate into an argument. Make sure you begin the conference by pointing out issues that are specific to the performance, not the person.
• Take an inquisitive approach. Ask the employee what they think went wrong and then listen to what they have to say. Their feedback may not only help resolve their personal performance issue, it may set the stage for widespread improvement throughout the company.
• Maintain your composure. Even if the employee did something that made you extremely angry, don’t let that influence the tone of the discussion. Take some time to calm down and adjust your frame of mind before meeting with the employee. While it may help you feel better to vent – even to yell – at the employee, that approach won’t do any good in terms of helping the employee see the error of his ways. And it sure as heck won’t make them want to do better!

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