The Good News is… you have choices in how to address the situation of an unsatisfactory performance!

Ignoring the Situation is not a choice you have.

We need to remind ourselves why it is important to address situations or cases of unsatisfactory performance. Very simply, failing to address them will have serious consequences for the organization as well as for everyone involved:

  1. Standards and performance will slip and drop.
  2. Good performers will become disenchanted and leave.
  3. Relationships and the overall culture will suffer from the perceived unfairness and injustice.

For these and other reasons it is important to handle unsatisfactory performance situations and meetings and to do so well.

The Choices

Having looked at this topic over the past four weeks I hope you have gained some clarity around what might be behind people’s current unsatisfactory behaviour or performance which will add greatly to your sharpness and effectiveness as a manager.

It will also help you to find out what is really needed in each instance and so enable you to be more supportive, more helpful as a manager.

It is easy to forget that this is an essential part of your role. It is easy to make the mistake of thinking that your job is to expect, demand, criticise, assess, or judge, and forget the very important responsibility you have to help and support the person.

This, in fact, is one of the most precious aspects of our role as managers, to help people to perform and be more and better than they currently are.

There are three very effective approaches you can use in addressing situations of unsatisfactory performance:

1 – Get your message across so that you explicitly inform the person of your need.

This is an approach which, because you are very certain and confident that you are right and that there is a real need for improvement straight away, you explicitly inform the person of this need for improved performance, why this is so, and invite or challenge them to say what they will do to change.

2 – Ask questions to get information so that you know the appropriate action to take.

This approach is one where you are at a loss as to what is going on and, before taking any action, want to find out what is happening.

You ask questions and explore with the person how they see things in order to gain a better understanding which will help you to better handle the situation after the meeting.

In the course of the meeting you can decide to respond to what the person is saying or decide to think about it and talk to the person again later.

3 – Coach the person so that they are clear about what they have to do differently.

This approach is using Coaching to:

  • Make the person more aware of their performance as it actually is.
  • Raise person’s awareness of what is required to achieve the overall goal.
  • Help person become clear on how they see themselves performing against these requirements.
  • Identify what they need to do differently and better
  • See what support they may require

It is possible to use a mix of all three of these approaches in the one meeting, depending on what is happening.

Whichever of these approaches you choose to use will be determined by how urgent you see the situation to be and the required improvement needed.

There is never a watertight process that will get people to behave as managers want them to, no matter how valuable and meaningful their wishes or goals may be. However, with the various tools and approaches we’ve covered in these weeks we trust that you have gained some very valuable insights that will help you when required.