No one likes to be the bearer of bad news. It can be even tougher if the news you’re bearing is that one of your employees is producing unsatisfactory work. The last thing you want to do in this challenging labor environment is create another vacancy by terminating an employee. On the other hand, if you keep an underperforming employee around without addressing their deficiencies, they could drag others around them down. The trick, then, is to effectively provide feedback to motivate an underachiever toward meeting your expectations. Here are six steps to getting an employee back on the path to success.
Plan the Feedback Session Carefully
Preparing in advance for feedback meetings allows you to make your points with ease and confidence. Create a clear set of talking points; doing so will help you maintain control of what could be an emotionally charged situation. You may even want to use one of your management colleagues as a sounding board to get your own feedback on your approach.
Focus on the Work – Not the Worker
One way to ensure a positive outcome is to focus on the job duties that aren’t getting done, or done in the proper fashion. Keeping things professional is less likely to make an employee feel like they’re being attacked personally and more likely for them to take your counseling to heart.
Make the Feedback Session a Dialogue – Not a Lecture
Ask the employee questions about the obstacles they face in pursuit of their performance objectives. Allow them to provide input on how they can improve and more effectively contribute to organizational success. Above all, talk with them, not at them.
Be Clear and Sincere
When discussing subpar performance with an employee, it may seem like a good idea to use a “spoonful of sugar” approach. But employees will see through any fake platitudes you may offer as a way of cushioning the blow. If there’s a pressing performance issue to resolve, be specific about what you need from them. In the long run, they’ll thank you for your frankness.
Summarize the Action Plan
As with any business communication, it’s important to close your feedback with a summary of what you’ve covered. State your expectations, the problems with their current performance, the practices they should adopt and the solutions you’ve collaborated on.
The value of the feedback you provide is lessened if you don’t routinely review your employee’s progress. Follow up and see if they need assistance or more resources; this will help them stay motivated and productive.
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