You’re going over the ways that your employee’s performance is lagging when you notice tears in his eyes. Maybe it was the tone of your voice, or an insult, or how you asked about life at home. Whatever the case, you turned a chance at a constructive conversation into an awkward moment.
Even if your workers aren’t prone to waterworks, a negative performance review done poorly can be a demoralizing experience rather than the motivating one it should be.
If your employees are failing and you need to get them into shape, keep the following in mind:
Don’t compare them to another employee.
Some managers make it a habit to compare two individuals who have a similar function, HR and strategy consultant Jappreet Sethi writes on LinkedIn. By taking the focus off of the employee you’re speaking with, you’re making them uncomfortable without addressing how they can work on their own inefficiencies.
Go over their successes.
If you need to go over their failures, you need to make your evaluation constructive by going over their successes. Remind them of their strengths, Sethi says, and you can help them overcome their weaknesses.
Employees should not be shocked when you tell them they are underperforming, because you should maintain a constant conversation with them about their work beyond formal reviews. One of the worst things a manager can do is make the ultimate punishment for an employee — firing them — a surprise, Eric Jackson, founder and managing partner of Iron Capital, LLC, writes on Forbes.
Recognise factors beyond their control.
When considering your employee’s successes and failures, make note of any external factors that may have been responsible for either, says investment manager and author Michael Mauboussin in a video for Harvard Business Review.
Don’t address their intent.
“Stay away from impugning an employee’s intent. ‘You didn’t try.’ ‘You don’t care.’ ‘You weren’t applying yourself.’ Intent is largely irrelevant; you cannot prove it,” Jonathan A. Segal, partner at Duane Morris, writes for Bloomberg Businessweek. Additionally, there’s too great a risk that the employee will interpret these judgments as attacks and become even more difficult to manage.
Stay away from personal territory.
Don’t bring up things like family life, dress habits, or personal beliefs as reasons for lagging performance, Sethi says, because they should have little to no real effect on workplace performance.
Determine goals and a plan to meet them.
A negative performance review shouldn’t be a chance for you to berate an employee with a list of the ways they have failed. Instead, set goals to remedy each of these failures, Segal says, and discuss ways that they can be met.
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