Thursday, May 11, 2017

How to Prevent Redundant Performance Improvement Conversations

Guest Post from Karin Hurt:

Performance improvement conversations aren’t enjoyable -- for you or for them. To make sure you don’t have to have the same uncomfortable conversation twice, take a hard look at your approach.

The most effective performance improvement conversations are built using four components: Clarity, Conflicts, Confidence, and Conviction. Ask yourself, as you read each of the questions below, are you equipping your employees to answer in the affirmative? Are you setting them up to actually do what you need them to do?

Clarity: "I know exactly what to do."
You think you’ve communicated what needs to change. But, have you really? Almost every time I work with managers to improve their coaching, there’s a disconnect between what they think they’ve communicated and what’s actually been understood. What they’ve often missed is isolating the very specific behaviors that must change for the employee to be successful. What exactly do you want your employee to do? How will they (and you) know your expectations are being met? "A positive attitude," "More customer focus" and "Being more strategic" aren’t specific enough. Isolate and breakdown the behaviors you need to see shifted before success can be declared.

Conflicts: "I have your support to solve my underlying problems."
Yes, your primary objective in this conversation is to inspire behavioral change. Do you know the best way to do that? Discover why the undesirable behaviors are occurring. Listen. Closely. It's easy to discount the "reasons" why they can't improve: competing priorities; overload; mixed messages; customer angst. Go after the insight you need about what’s getting in the way of optimal performance. Chances are good that underlying issue is also undermining your high-performers and frustrating your customers.

Confidence: "I have no doubt that I do this."
I’ll be straight with you. If your employees leave these conversations with the feeling that you don’t think they can make positive change, they won’t. Your doubt will undermine them. Ask yourself, are you giving them the benefit of the doubt? Do you believe they’re able to do what you’re asking them to do? If not, cross your t's and dot your i's on your performance documentation. But, if you are coming from a place of belief, show them why. Talk about how they’ve been successful in the past. Teach them that you have confidence in their ability to break down the goal into bite size behaviors they can celebrate.

Conviction: "I'm committed to doing it."
If engagement is the issue, begin your conversation by asking questions. Why do they choose to work here? At the end of the day, what makes them feel accomplished? Link what you’re asking them to do with what matters most to them -- not just professionally, but personally.

You may not roll out a successful performance improvement conversation on your first try. Keep at it. It’s a skill you can refine, and it’s a skill that will serve you well. No one wants to work for a boss who sets them up to fail, even it’s unintentional.

About the Author
Karin Hurt is a keynote speaker, top leadership consultant, and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and Human Resources. The author of WinningWell and Overcoming an ImperfectBoss, Hurt has been named to Inc.'s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA's 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, and a Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America.

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