As managers of the HR function many of us know that is difficult to have performance management conversations with employees that are struggling in their job. We want everyone to be successful and will often do everything we can to coach and mentor employees. These difficult performance conversations are a key responsibility and role Human Resources plays to support management and improve company productivity and performance. Outlined below are four steps that the HR leader needs to take to support the corporate team and as well act as a resource for the organization.
#1 Create Reasonable and Goal Oriented Objectives
Businesses are results driven and when we have a performance management discussion with an employee it is important to refer to the job description and goals and objectives that were arrived at the beginning of the performance process. The job description should be detailed and the goals should be reasonable, attainable and agreed upon by all parties. The purpose of documenting at the beginning of the process is that helps keep both you and your employee focused and on the right path. The more detailed and specific the job description and the goals and objectives the better the chance of all parties achieving the desired results.
#2 Performance Conversation and Discussion
It is important to remember that this is a conversation between colleagues and not a lecture. The performance discussion is designed to gather information and give advice. Listen to your employee, analyze their responses, refer to the job description, agreed upon goals and objectives and discuss performance deficiencies. Always maintain a professional and business oriented discussion. If you want to make sure that you are crafting a positive conversation, then as a manger you need to become aware of your communication style vis-à-vis your employees. It is important to modify your style to accommodate the setting and purpose of the discussion and be an active listener. You also need to take notes and attempt to come to a joint understanding of those areas where improvement is desired.
#3 Coaching and Training
One of the key elements in a performance discussion is the belief that the employee is receiving accurate information in a supportive environment. Managers need to make the most of whatever opportunities they have to increase their direct reports' trust at all levels and look for ways to support the struggling staff member. One of the best ways to improve performance is to increase the trust between you and your subordinate. It is critical to coach the employee, be consistent and look for ways for the employee to be successful. Occasionally, managers will offer additional training and provide training to improve sub-standard performance. While additional training is very important is only one tool in a manager’s took kit. Additional support includes meeting more often to provide immediate feedback with the employee as well as using a problem solving approach as the method to address performance issues. As a manger and HR professional the idea that every day is a performance review should be the approach utilized.
#4 Agree Upon the Strategy
Because people have different development needs at different stages, managers are advised to discuss the performance plan and agree to the next steps for the future. The performance plan is not designed as a way to manage a struggling performer out of the organization but rather to give them the tools to ensure their success. As a manager, and HR leader it is important to be a good listener, be candid and honest and document the agreed upon strategy.
Finally, remember that you cannot “save” everyone. No matter what you do, there are those staff members that do have the skills or knowledge to be successful. What you can do is give them the tools and time be successful. Ultimately, it is up the employee to rise to the occasion.