Crucial conversations - Poor Performance

Managers necessarily will encounter situations where they need to discuss the poor performance of some of their team members. Such conversations are difficult and the easy recourse is to delay having them.

However, it is best practice to take the performance issues head-on and immediately so that the employee can get an opportunity to fix the issues.

In order to have an effective under performance discussion with an individual employee, the manager must:

  1. Focus on the underlying behaviours that are causing the poor performance and avoid the unconscious bis of stereotyping the employee as under performer.
  2. Separate and understand the situational (or workplace related) and personal factors influencing the poor performance. Example of a situational factor - if employee is taking time offs regularly, a manager should explore if flexible working hours can help. Example of a personal factor - someone sick at home that needs extra caring.
  3. Understanding if the employee a) realises he or she is underperforming b) doesn't realise the expectation gap.
  4. Where an employee realises his or her underperformance, the manager should use the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options and Will) model to coach the employee by discussing a) what the expectations were, b) what are the specific gaps in performance of the employee against the expectations, c) what options are available to bridge this performance gap, and d) what are the next steps or actions to be taken
  5. When an employee does not realise the gap in their performance against the manager's expectations, the managers must use 1:1 meetings to a) clarify the expectations b) discuss specific instances of work items that are below expectations and c) validate the specific instances through peer feedback
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