Dress it up how you like, ‘how do I get rid of this poor performer’ is a question I frequently get asked at training events, presentations or over the phone.

Often the decision maker is looking for an instant solution, usually motivated by a desire to avoid any interpersonal confrontation and investment in time.

Since I specialise in enhancing outcomes from the handling of employment law related people issues, this may not be surprising, but very often there is an embarrassed silence on the end of the phone when the manager or Director is asked whether they have told the individual that they are unhappy with their work.

Replacing employees is expensive, so the focus of any intervention should be to correct the performance so that the employee does not need to leave the business.

Here are 10 things you should be doing to encourage great performance in your colleagues and avoid the necessity to start a procedure that may lead to somebody’s departure. Do these things, and you will not need to use HR services like ours!

You will not always succeed, but don’t worry, the law is on your side.  Employers are not expected to tolerate poor performance, but if it does come to a dismissal, they are expected to behave reasonably, and that definitely includes giving a chance to improve.

My top ten tips are:-

  1. Pay attention to good performance. There’s a child in all of us that needs praise and thanks.  Everyone is watching what you pay attention to, and if it’s not praising good performance, you don’t stand a chance of dealing with the occasional poor performer.
  2. Feedback observations. Tell the person what you are seeing that you’re not happy with. Avoid assumptions, comment on things you have observed.  ‘You seemed to be avoiding eye contact with that customer’ is better than ‘You obviously weren’t interested in helping that customer’.
    People often react negatively to assumptions about their attitudes, so concentrate on behaviours which are observable.
  3. Explain the impact. Make sure they understand the impact of the issues that you have with their performance i.e. if they are not recording their activity properly, colleagues cannot deal with customer queries when they are not around.
    In my training courses I often refer to the 3is of performance feedback – explain the issue, the impact and the improvement required. The impact is the filling in the sandwich we often forget.  People don’t realise that their performance has an impact and won’t be able to improve unless they understand what it is.
  4. What does good look like. Tell them what you want to see in the place of the problem behaviours. “I’d prefer to see you….” works well. Often we are much better at saying what we don’t like, but not so good at saying what we would prefer to see.
  5. Avoid second-hand feedback. “Somebody told me…” will not get you anywhere. Tell them what you have observed. To say I am not happy with this really is OK, it’s your standards that matter.
  6. ‘Can’t do’ or ‘Won’t do’. Decide whether the problem is a “can’t” do or “won’t do” and then adjust your approach accordingly. The former may need guidance or empowerment, the latter may need more involvement to deal with disenchantment, or even direction – “you’ve tried it your way, so now I want you to do it like this”.
  7. Be specific with your feedback. “you need to keep clients updated at least once a week” is better than “your clients always seem to be calling you for updates”.
  8. Give timely feedback. “I was not happy with something you did a month ago” is just not good enough. Whatever you do, don’t save it all up for the annual appraisal – you’ll give appraisals a bad name!
  9. Stay assertive. Show you understand, say your position and state what you want to happen next.  “[Show] I understand that you were not clear about what I was looking for.  [SAY] I’d have preferred you to ask me to go through the ideas again, [STATE] so I’d like to meet tomorrow to have that discussion so that you can get this sorted within the next fortnight”.
  10. SMART objectives. The old chestnut. set objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable or agreed, and relevant, and be ready to break things down into bitesize chunks. “Try this approach for a week, and then we’ll review it” often works.

If you only do one thing differently as a result of reading this blog, you’ll see the difference, and it won’t surprise you if I say that No 1 is the most important.

Go on, walk out the door and give someone some praise!

Written by Ken Allison | 9th September 2021 | Paradigm Partners | www.paradigmpartners.co.uk

Ken Allison is an engaging trainer and speaker who manages to make his topics, highly interactive, challenging, entertaining, and above all, relevant to the 21st Century executive. Ken uses his understanding of managing businesses to show managers what they ‘can do’ rather than what they ‘cannot do’.

Ken specialises in taking the strain out of employment law related people issues through training workshops for managers, and his firm’s ‘ExecutiveHR’ service, providing telephone based support services to businesses throughout the UK.

Ken Allison is an expert in HR Employment Law. He combines this with a hands on understanding of managing businesses, to provide clear, no nonsense guidance to people managers as to what they ‘can do’ rather than what they ‘cannot do’.  His unique proposition is that he combines a background in line management, corporate HR and personnel, and seven years as Head of HR Consulting for a major law firm, to deliver practical solutions that improve performance.

Ken is also a Trusted Advisor to Property Academy members.

Find out more about Property Academy membership.