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4 Secrets to a Successful Performance Improvement Conversation post image

You sit down for an earnest performance improvement conversation. Things improve for a minute. And the next day (or the day after), she’s back to her “hot mess” behavior.

Sound familiar?

Maybe it’s her. Some people are hard to reach.

But before you write her off as “unfixable,” take a hard look at your approach.

Center Your Performance Improvement Conversation Around These Four Components

Successful performance improvement conversations should include discussion around the following components:

Clarity: “I know what to do.”

Almost every time I work with supervisors on improving their coaching, they are sure they have communicated what to do. And, of course, they’ve been crystal clear on many levels. What is often missing is isolating the very specific behaviors that must change for the employee to be successful. What exactly do you want your employee to do? How will they (and you) know that’s happening. Isolate and breakdown the behaviors you most need for success. Note: “A positive attitude,” “More customer focus” and “Being more strategic” don’t count. Be specific.

Conflicts: “This is where I’m stuck”

Listen here. Closely. It’s easy to discount the “reasons” they can’t improve:  competing priorities; overload; mixed messages; customer angst. This is the part of the conversation that will give you insights to not only what’s getting in the way for her, but also what is driving your high-performers nuts and frustrating your customers.

Confidence: “I can do this.”

Okay, here comes the hard part. If you don’t think she can get there from here, she will see that a mile away. First do a gut check. Are you giving her the benefit of the doubt? Do you believe this is possible? (If not, cross your t’s and dot your i’s on your performance documentation.) But if you are coming from a place of “Yes you can,” be clear on why. Show her examples of how she’s done this before. Break down the goals into bite size behaviors. Start small and be impressed.

Conviction: “I’m committed to doing it.”

If here in lies the challenge, start by asking questions. Why does she choose to work here? What makes here feel great at the end of the day? Connect what you’re asking of her to why it matters.

Holding successful performance improvement conversations takes practice. Consistent focus on these four areas will help you get to the root cause of the issue more quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask her, “What else can I do to be most helpful?” And then, really listen to the what she has to say.

Your turn. What are the key elements to an effective performance improvement conversation?
Filed Under:   #ResultsThatLast, winning well
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.
 

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What People Are Saying

LaRae Quy   |   12 January 2017   |   Reply

I’ve been in the very situation you described—giving a performance review and everything is fine…for one day and then it’s back to the same old behavior. I love all of your suggestions and was wondering where I could have changed my approach to this individual…eventually she was fired so I think it is really important to listen to your gut about a person. If you don’t really think change is in the air, then find a way for the employee to breath someone else’s air…

Sam   |   16 January 2017   |   Reply

Thanks for the post Karin. To me, clarity is one of the most important factors. Everyone learns and understands knowledge in their own unique way – and being clear is critical to productive two-way communication.