20 Positive Ways to Confront Poor Performance
Lousy leaders whine about mediocrity, but, can’t or won’t have tough conversations.
Excellence is a function of confronting performance issues.
People either rise up or, eventually, they leave.
Exceptional organizations consist of exceptional people. Talent develops when poor performance is confronted.
6 Reasons performance deteriorates:
- Resentment, anger, and getting even.
- Over-work and over-commitment.
- Lack of clear direction.
- Unmatched skill-sets.
- Distractions from meddling bosses.
- Organizational culture that accepts mediocrity.
20 Ways to confront performance issues:
- Begin with the person not the performance. People aren’t machines.
- Manage your emotions. Your feelings are obvious.
- Act quickly. Delay invites mediocrity.
- Never allow a first conversation to be an accusation.
- Choose engagement over compliance.
- Become a partner not superior.
- Commit to their success or begin the process of setting them lose.
- Assume responsibility. Blame invites defensiveness. Own your responsibility to develop their best.
- Use “I” more than “you.”
- Ask them to assess their performance, first.
- Don’t use job descriptions as a crutch. Official documents create distance not connection.
- Explain their unique and essential contribution. Describe how declining performance lessens meaningful impact.
- Speak hard truths optimistically. “You have more in you.”
- Avoid adversarial tones and terminology.
- Explore “with” before explaining “to.” You don’t know the whole story.
- Don’t rely on leadership by decree. Disconnected leaders use pressure. “This is going to stop.” Coercion leads to manipulation which leads to deception.
- Connect. The more difficult the conversation the more important connection becomes. Authority and position hinder connection.
- Describe failure kindly but clearly. Pulling punches leads to mediocrity.
- Define the win.
- Develop a clear path forward. Talk more about the future than the past.
I recently had a “you fell short” conversation. When it ended they said, “I’m encouraged.”
- Compassion coupled with high expectation.
- An established relationship of trust.
- Respect for their talent and contribution.
- Optimism about their future.
- A clear path forward that included opportunity.
How can leaders confront poor performance successfully?
Which of these ideas is most important to you? Why?
Wow! This one really speaks to me on practically every point. Definitely one I will be printing up to put on my wall. Screw the trees!
Thanks James! I feel my head expanding. 🙂
Well in my understanding behaviors are quite simple.
If I believe doing something is going to bring me more pleasure than not doing it, I will do it. If I believe doing something will bring me more pain than not doing it, I will not do it.
Real simple, I get it, but THAT is at the base of all decisions from my understanding.
As a part of getting to that, why’s not connected, no trust emerging, having a Leader who flaps their gums SAYING stuff(so they feel better about themselves) but sacrifice none of their time to understand what I am up to and what I care about?
Result…….stress…..cortisol blast! Feeling really crummy, immune system stopped, feeling crummy and health gonna go in the toilet if this continues. Oxytocin blast much more recommended.
Poor performance conversation ALL depends on what they taught me in Boy Scouts. Be Prepared! If the prep work is done, the why’s connected and trust emerged, then a friendly conversation about what’s up and how we doing and what can we to next to get closer to our goals can happen.
If not just a lot of lying. Both people saying one thing to the other person and something else to themselves. The words sound good but does not match their inner dialogue. Saying what the other person wants to hear so you can get the heck away from them, Just shows lack of insight on the Leaders behalf is all.
I like number 2 from the last 5. Understanding the Golden Circle and building that trusting relationship! Yeah that’s the ticket.
Thanks Dan have a good day
SP back to the studying The Golden Circle Simon really explains this so well.
You used one of my favorite words “trust”. Trust builds confidence, confidence ignites passion, passion opens the doors to great possibilities.
Great J, if you have never seen Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek you are in for a TRUST TREAT!!!!!!! New book coming out by the same name in 2014.
Just google it, it is on vimeo! 45 minutes of spellbounding TRUTH.
Not just some person flapping their gums saying stuff to someone else who probably does not believe them.
Trust ONLY emerges when person A feels person B really has their back. The WAY they KNOW this is person B sacrifices their time and focus. The action allows the trust to emerge. Not hollow words. Everyone knows, talk is cheap. Don’t they?
Hope you have not seen Simons video, do watch, like it and tell everyone you know.
I believe in preparation as long as it’s not gather ammunition. These conversations, at least at the beginning are explorations. Too much “preparation” closes minds. Better to stay open.
Great point as usual Dan.
What I meant though about preparation is Why’s Connected and Trust already emerged.
That preparation bonds people together who know they have each others back and are working together on agreed upon goals.
When results slow then, they are not adversaries, but team mates. Whole different conversation when Why’s Connected and Trust has emerged.
Thanks Dan, your point well taken!
SP back to the Golden Circle!
My sister has a manager that does not have the best leadership skills which causes the team to fall short–thank you for this so I could pass it along!
I feel like I should run for cover. Am I being thrown into a hornets nest?
Haha no my sister really liked it and know better knows how to deal!
After almost 20 years at the same company, I have lost my passion and as a result am no longer engaged in the way I want and need to be. More than not liking or feeling fulfilled by my current responsibilities, the biggest issue I have is the lack of quality leadership and support from my direct supervisor and above. This has of course negatively impacted my performance. Unfortunately, my boss has not done the things that you describe here.
On the one hand I have been questioning my capabilities when the real issue is my commitment. On the other hand, I guess deep down I have known that it was time to explore opportunities outside my current company for at least two years. Fear of change, the unknown, and of the possibility that maybe I just couldn’t hack it made me stay longer than I should.
The good news is that I know understand what’s missing. I have decided that I am moving on to find a new opportunity that will allow me to lead with passion and compassion in an organization that shares my values and commitment to excellence.
I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to you Dan for helping me to see the light. I have gotten so much from reading your blog over the past several months.
I also want to thank you for providing me the opportunity to get a free copy of Mark Miller’s The Hear of Leadership which is awesome and I highly recommend.
Cutting something lose is one of the hardest things we do. Best wishes.
I’m delighted you enjoy Marks book, “The Heart of Leadership” I think it’s wonderful, too.
I like #13 – Speak hard truths optimistically. “You have more in you.” This is so powerful. Once you instill a belief in someone it’s amazing what they can do. You must do it optimistically and with enthusiasm and energy. They have to believe that you believe and it’s not just lip service. I am learning that “words” are powerful and I am learning to choose them wisely both in speech and written. Inspire people to find their best and deliver it. Speaking the hard truth is a start down the right path.
It’s frighteningly easy to undermine someone’s confidence. This is especially true if you have a position, authority, or your are respected.
The real skill isn’t tearing down, it’s building up.
Not complex, just difficult. You could probably reprint this weekly, Dan, it is that important. 84% of the population is conflict adverse. This translates into a lot of conversations about improvement that are not occurring, or not occurring well. That means there are a significant number of organizations that are under performing, and a lot of talent that is likely leaving or has checked out and not working close to their capabilities (worse). You offer some very practical how to have these conversations that are terrific. My own experience is that the more you practice, the better you get and the more effective (encouraging) the conversations become. The hard part is convincing yourself that you have a significant role to play in how your people perform.
I think the success of this list is that it doesn’t attempt to “fix the problem”. People are not machines. They are not broken. You can’t “fix” them. Help them instead. Helping is an entirely different viewpoint from fixing.
I completely agree with Bonnie. People aren’t machines. We can’t go in, punch in and out, and then expect to know everything. Helping out the person, talking them through the problem makes a great leader.
Another good one….enjoy!
2013 ~ The iYear….Imagination, Impartation and Increase!
These are terrific guidelines, Dan, for dealing with reasonable, rational human beings. Given a reasonable level of native competence and self awareness, team members can be coached to improvement. However, I have encountered several team members over the years (including one that I mistakenly hired myself) that obstinately refused to admit that their performance was anything but stellar. In every case, the only encouragement they could accept was to seek employment elsewhere. For me, those were the most personally challenging.
All suggestions are excellent. I would add one more suggestion- more expectation and less effort. When people expect more and put less effort, then they tend to lose. In fact, they should expect less and increase their effort. By doing, they can increase the possibility to win. Many times, we tend to set unrealistic expectation or goal that become only wishing and effort hardy achieve it. So, it is important to set realistic goal keeping limitation of resources and capacity in mind.
Some of the ideas are really appealing to me. They are- speaking hard truth optimistically and defining win. Many times we do not the shape of win. So, it is really important to define and discuss the face of win. Secondly, speaking hard truth is absolutely important component in defining and winning goal. Even more important is accepting hard truths that are applicable to us.
Thank you for excellent good for thought posts! I appreciate the simplicity and common sense to your topics!
One of the reasons I say, “People are first, business is second nature.” People don’t work for companies, they work for – and with – people. Too many managers and leaders seem to forget that they are the company, not the bricks and mortar that surround them.
A keeper for sure. Just shared this with a few of my coaching clients so they can benefit as well.
Cracking advice there Dan. So often managers think they are being tough when actually they are just being clumsy. 🙂
I’m saving this one, it really works for me and highlighted where i have just gone astray,
Reblogged this on Movers, Shakers, Leadership Makers.