Conversations for Performance – a Critical Business Management Skill

In the last blog article I described a situation where an employee was no longer performing as expected – coming in late to work, being rude, and a decline in the quality of work done.  You now have a decision to make:  no matter what the underlying cause(s), will you continue to tolerate the behaviors, or will you address them?  If you choose to address them, what strategies are most likely to create clarity around your expectations while giving the employee a chance to meet them?

First and foremost, threats will not work.  Or they may work in the short term, but over time you will probably lose the employee, either by firing or by his/her choice.  So what does work?  The book Crucial Conversations (Kerry Patterson et al) is a resource I highly recommend.  Here is an extremely brief synopsis of their process.

  • You must be clear in your own mind what needs to change and be able to describe that clearly to the employee. (Chapter 3)
  • You must create a “safe space” for this conversation to occur. (Chapter 5)
  • You must be open to alternative solutions suggested by the employee. (Chapter 8)
  • Together, you and the employee must create and follow a mutually acceptable action plan. (Chapter 10)

Sound difficult?  Of course!  Your choice is whether to step up to the challenge or give up on this employee.  There are costs and risks in either choice, but the most benefit will be gained for you and your business if you are willing to create the foundation for a productive conversation for performance.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

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