When you need to have that difficult conversation

This morning I was showing my husband some new abs exercises and he was saying that he was finding some of the moves challenging (I was sharing the torture I have to endure at my boot-camp class!), when my amazing five-year old put her hand on his shoulder, looked him deep in the eyes and said “Daddy, you just need to keep practising and you’ll get better”. We laughed because she sounded like me at homework time! I try to make homework fun and give feedback that builds my girls confidence and encourages them to keep pushing for excellence.

This can be very similar to dealing with staff issues, it can be hard to balance providing constructive feedback that motivates, rather than frustrates. And of course everyone is different, which means you need to flex your style of delivery to ensure that your word will be heard as intended.

It’s always best to address issues as they occur (or as soon as you are aware), rather than storing them up for the next scheduled meeting or performance review. I always say that if someone is over achieving or underachieving they should know about it before going into a formal meeting or appraisal (unless it’s a gross misconduct issue).

We all know that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes, so expecting perfectionism from your team is unrealistic. However, there are basics that need to be delivered, processes and procedures that need to be adhered to.

So, the first step in dealing with staff issues, is to ensure that they are aware of what is expected of them through establishing SMART objectives and having an employee handbook that details policies and procedures, around behaviour and the sanctions for not adhering to them.

Does your team have SMART objectives set? If you need a reminder on setting objectives, check out my video here https://youtu.be/OojcB63lVy8

Does your team know what is expected of them? And how their work relates to the success of your business?

It is important to get confirmation from your team that they have heard and understood what you told them, I generally get my team to send me their objectives after we have discussed them, so that I can be sure they have understood what I relayed and not made an assumption.

Once you know that you and your team are on the same page, you are in a much better situation when it comes to dealing with any performance issues that arise.

Here are some tips to help you to discuss poor performance:

  • Listen before you speak – Get the back story, make sure there are no extenuating circumstances. Remember that sometimes your team needs your support more than your wrath!

  • Be prepared - Stick to facts. Provide examples of issues and show what good looks like.

  • Don’t get emotional – The majority of the time people aren’t purposely making mistakes, they will feel bad, don’t make it worse by adding your feelings to it.

  • Set clear objectives going forward and review them at least weekly, to ensure that improvements are being made.

Next week we will look at the difference between conduct and capability and the best ways to address each type of performance issue