5 Tactics For Discussing Poor Performance In One-On-Ones

There are many ways to approach the poor performance of an employee. If you’re undertaking a one-on-one meeting with them, take a few moment to read the following. Each point is actionable and practical in ensuring a successful outcome for you – and your employee!


Article from longer article by Justin Fragapane at this link: https://www.officevibe.com/blog/poor-employee-performance-at-work


Whatever stage you’re at in dealing with an employee’s poor performance, one-on-one meetings are vital to their improvement. They’re private, they’re personal, and they’re the perfect opportunity to display some empathy towards their situation and show that you’re committed to helping them improve.


Here are 5 approaches you can put into action.


Put In The Effort And Come Prepared


Your one-on-ones may be scheduled every month, every two weeks, or even once a week depending on the time available to you. Whatever the case, if you’re going to the meeting with the goal of addressing a problem with performance, prove that you actually care by coming to the table prepared.

Be ready to refer to specific instances, back up the things you say, and most importantly, have a few pieces of corrective feedback prepped and in your back pocket for the conversation. To be truly empathic, if you’re going to point out shortcomings, you’ll also want to work with that employee to understand what they’re feeling and where the problem may be coming from.

Absorbing what they say and offering thoughtful feedback and solutions you can work through together shows you’re willing to put in the effort on their behalf.


Ensure They’re Willing To Put In The Effort, Too


The important point is that performance improvement can only come with employee buy-in. In other words, they need to be willing to make certain adjustments. Ask the person if they’re willing to change, and if you don’t get the sense they’re open to trying, it may be worth re-evaluating.

Once you have buy-in, however, continue to show empathy by getting them involved in the brainstorming process. Engage them by asking what they think might help them improve in their problem areas.

Tell them you don’t require an immediate response. Instead schedule a follow-up for a few days later and ask them to come prepared with some meaningful solutions. Building the process around them increases how motivated they’ll likely be in seeing it through.


Set Clear Goals For A Short Time Period


The path to helping an employee turn around their performance is most easily taken in shorter, measurable steps. In addition to corrective feedback, work with the team member to set expectations for whatever timeframe best applies.

Get their input, set attainable goals and priorities, and make sure you’ve done your best to provide the resources and support you or they have suggested to help them improve. Plan to meet again at a defined date to measure progress and talk through their experience.


Offer Praise, Make Positive Change Count


If you notice the person is on the right path and trending towards the goals you’ve both set, don’t be shy about applauding them for it. At one point, what the employee needed from you may have been guidance and support, but if that’s resulted in an uptick in performance, what they need now may be acknowledgment.

Make it clear you’ve noticed their development, praise them for their efforts, and take the time to chat through and try to pinpoint together exactly what the difference-maker in the equation was so you can keep the momentum going.

If you feel the situation’s been resolved, and company objectives are being met, don’t dwell on it more than is needed and instead shift the focus towards the future and developing the skills that matter to them most.


Take Action If You’re Not Getting The Desired Results


Everyone needs time to improve and adapt, but after addressing the same issue multiple times, and doing everything possible to work with the employee, it may no longer be a question of coaching.

Sometimes you can provide all the training, resources, additional check-ins, support, incentives, recognition, and understanding in the world, but it unfortunately won’t make the employee in question the right fit for your team.

While disciplinary action isn’t something that should ever be taken lightly – especially if you haven’t already tried the alternatives – there are moments when letting the consequences be known becomes the last available step.

Work with your HR department to determine the best course of action in these scenarios. And remember, you don’t have to wait until things are dire to consult with them – sometimes it’s helpful to have a 3rd party opinion, even if you’re not ready for them to get directly involved.

Whatever the outcome, at the very least, take comfort in the fact that you did everything in your power to understand, empathize, and take action.


PRO TIP: it’s always recommended that you document every initiative you’ve taken to help your employee, as well as the roadblocks you’ve faced along the way. If the time eventually does come where you need to engage HR, you’ll be able to present an accurate and honest snapshot of the situation from start to finish.

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