Are You a Pushover on Performance Issues?

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As a leader or manager, there are things you are responsible for that you’d rather not do. On that list of tough things to do is dealing with a co-worker or employee who is a continuous performance problem.  It impacts business and the ranks resent it.  To allow a known issue to linger is not good leadership.


I have seen executives that appear tough turn into complete pansies when it comes to dealing with a problem employee.  Are we having fun yet?


Here are some things you can do to address employee performance issues effectively and to avoid being a complete wimp:


  • Set performance expectations.  Every employee needs to hear from you exactly what their performance should be and how you expect to measure them.  Once you set a clear direction, then ongoing conversations are easier to conduct.
  • Act quickly.  When you see an issue, you need to jump on it quickly while the details are fresh in your mind and theirs.
  • Make a script.  One of the biggest issues most managers face is difficulty in knowing how to start the conversation and what to say.  It’s easier to do if you think through the key points you want to make, jot those points down and use your notes while you discuss them with the employee.
  • Don’t be vague.  Make sure you say early in the conversation, “There is an issue with your performance.”  Short, sweet and no room to misunderstand.
  • Give examples.  Don’t just say there is a problem; be prepared to give examples that reinforce your observations.
  • Stay calm. No one listens to a yelling person.  You will lose your effectiveness.  You will also lose respect from other employees if they realize this is how you function.
  • Ask them to recap their understanding.  In order for anything to change, you have to know they heard AND understood your message.  Ask them to recap what you said and what they will be doing differently.
  • Schedule follow-up.  You can’t just toss a scud missile at the employee and think your job is done.  While you are together, schedule time to reconvene.  Appointed follow-up will keep you both accountable.
  • Repetition is key.  Keep in mind that the employee did not come to work for you with the intention of doing poor work. To get them on the right track will require your sustained focus and numerous follow-ups before the new behavior is sustained.


If you aren’t dealing with the performance problems, you are creating numerous issues for yourself and those around you.  While this might rank right up there with a root canal, you can reduce the pain with a few thoughtful actions.

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By Dorothy Tannahill-Moran

About Dorothy

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is the Introvert Whisperer, Career & Leadership, speaker and author.

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