My Feedback Isn’t Working…Performance Management for Repeat Issues
You take performance management seriously. You care deeply about your team, their results, and their long-term career success. If you’re reading this, it sounds like you’re feeling a bit frustrated and stuck, because your well-intentioned accountability conversations aren’t fixing a repeated issue. If this sounds familiar, today’s Asking or a Friend is for you.
“Karin, there is this person on my team that I really care about and want to be successful. But they have one important behavior that’s SABOTAGING THEIR SUCCESS… and they don’t seem to be able to fix it. I keep having the conversation AGAIN and AGAIN. What can I do? #askingforafriend
Human-centered performance management means giving meaningful feedback that reinforces clear expectations and gives space for emotions, support, and reflection. It’s a two-way conversation that helps the employee identify their own next steps. When you’ve had this conversation, and your employee repeats the past behavior then you know you need to escalate the conversation. Here’s how.
Performance Management with the A.R.T. Method
Let’s Grow Leader’s A.R.T. Method of Advanced Accountability is a popular technique in our foundational leadership development programs. The A.R.T. Method helps you escalate the conversation in a way that continues to build the relationship while striving for results.
Step 1: A – Action
Most feedback conversations start by discussing a specific action. The first conversation you have with someone about their performance should clearly address the specific behavior that is problematic – being late for meetings, dismissing a colleague’s ideas, or not following through on a task. You could use our I.N.S.P.I.R.E. Method to map out this conversation so it’s supportive and collaborative.
Step 2: R – Repetition
So if you’ve had two Action conversations and your team member repeats the behavior, it’s time to move to R-Repetition.
You can still use the I.N.S.P.I.R.E. Method, but this time instead of pointing out the problematic action, you will call attention to the repetitive pattern. For example, “I’ve noticed a pattern where you’re arriving late.”
If it’s a repeating pattern, it’s possible the person isn’t aware of their actions and they aren’t noticing the consequences of their behavior. When you address the issue, it makes it clear to them that you notice and can help them identify something they weren’t even unaware of.
The key to this performance management step that can bring about change is to ask for a specific commitment about what they will do differently. Then work together and agree on a time to “schedule the finish.” This means scheduling a time when you’re going to check in on progress and discuss how it’s going. When you schedule the finish, make sure you follow through and check in when the time comes.
Step 3: T – Trust
When you’ve had a recent Repetition conversation and the behavior happens again, you will need to escalate the conversation once more. This time your performance management conversation is about not keeping their commitment and the erosion of trust because of it. When you tell your team member what you’re noticing it won’t be about the original action.
Now the problematic behavior is them not keeping their commitment.
What to say when you have a trust issue
Here’s an example of what you could say if you get to the T – Trust part of the A.R.T. Method:
“Do you remember the commitment you made last Friday? So here’s the thing. I noticed that this week, you didn’t keep your word, and I’m concerned.
Listen, I want to be able to trust you. I know you want to be able to trust me as your leader, as your manager. You’ve got to be able to take my word and bank on it. And I want to have that same relationship with you. Right now, that’s not happening. I want to see you succeed. I want the best for you. It’s important that you achieve all of your goals here, and this is going to prevent that. So what’s happening here? How do you think we can fix it?”
I’m curious, what would you add? What are your best practices for addressing repeating performance issues?
Managers, for a detailed overview of the I.N.S.P.I.R.E. Method, see our article How to Provide More Meaningful Performance Feedback.
And if you are ready to accelerate team performance and positive, sustained culture change, check out Team Accelerator, our manager-led program.