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Tips for Performance Management — How to Give Feedback to Poor Performers
You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
In today's blog post in the series on performance management we will be discussing that uncomfortable conversation that arises when an employee's performance has fallen short of the desired level. It's a difficult position for a manager, especially if they share a close working relationship with the employee in question. This discussion can be tough and emotionally draining, and for this reason, it gets avoided all too often.
When approached from the right angle, the conversation can lead to positive development and understanding for the employee. Today we will discuss how you can approach the subject of poor performance and start working at the issues without damaging the relationship.
When giving feedback you want to ensure you cover these bases:
Tackle Poor Performance When It Arises
Discussing poor performance issues should not be left until the performance appraisal, as bringing up issues that occurred months prior is not a good solution. Instead, discuss poor performance as it arises. It allows employees enough time to work on and improve their performance. Then, during the performance appraisal period, you can monitor their improvement and growth and discuss any difficulties they may still be experiencing.
Use the Discussion as a Stepping Stone for Change
Explain to employees that the purpose of the feedback is developmental in nature, rather than for the purpose of appraising them. Employees are more likely to be susceptible to using the feedback to improve when they have certain characteristics, such as:
Try to See it from Their Point of View
The manager should be seeking to understand the issues surrounding an employee's poor performance from their point of view. Question them on what happened, what they were lacking, and how they see the performance. Ask the question: "What do you think you can do to remedy the situation so it doesn't happen again?" This is a powerful technique because it gets the employee to recognize the problem and helps them to see how they can improve. As the manager, you can offer your support when the employee needs advice and help to improve, but you first need to get them to the place where they see the issues and are ready to improve.
Create a Culture of Feedback in Your Organization
Organizations can establish a feedback culture, which can ultimately lead to employees being more open to feedback and to performance improvement. Five ways that an organization can do this include the following:
Use Multiple Sources of Feedback
Feedback coming from multiple sources (e.g., 360 degree feedback) can be effective when the feedback is consistent, in part because it is difficult to disregard feedback coming from more than one source. The employee is more likely to consider the feedback and harbour less animosity towards the manager.
360 degree feedback systems involve gathering feedback from different people who are associated with the employee's work (e.g. you, different supervisors, colleagues, etc.). These can provide useful information to the employee about his or her performance, and are generally associated with improved performance (e.g., increased ratings on the next appraisal). In particular, studies show that it is the degree to which employee's ratings of their own performance differ from the ratings that others give them that appears to drive improvements.
A Note on Negative Feedback
Studies show that negative feedback, when given in public, may actually lead to worse performance, as employees who feel humiliated may engage in counterproductive work behaviors. Feedback should be framed in a positive and constructive way, as opposed to negatively-framed. Managers should provide ample support and understanding to employees, particularly when the feedback is negative.
When delivering negative feedback, ensure that you also focus on what the employee has done well, wrap the negative feedback in cushions of positive feedback. Feedback that is demoralizing, particularly when focused on the employee as a person, is most likely to have bad effects. Whereas, negative feedback that is focused on the task and how to do the task better typically does not lead to detriment.
Source: Clear Fit
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