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How to have a conversation about low performance with a team member

by Jul 22, 2020Leading yourself and your staff, Performance and development conversations

In this post, we go over how to have a conversation about low performance with team member. It is a fragment of a full webinar Performance Management 101: Learn how to get team members to perform at the right level, even if they are working from home. Click here to gain access to the whole recording and transcript (email required).

How to have a conversation about low performance with a team member

Seek first to understand

First of all, you got to seek first to understand what’s going on.

I remember one of my members said to me: ‘She was brilliant, and suddenly, she just disappeared, that performance has disappeared, as she’s got into lockdown.’ Of course, I said: ‘You got to understand what’s going on for them.’

You’ve got to have that conversation: ‘Is there a problem I don’t know about? Is there are skill or will opportunity? How conducive to working at home is your home environment?’

You’ve got to understand what are their situation and environmental factors. Because actually, a lot has changed.

Our Senior Account Management, Ashley Leeds, for instance, has got a new puppy. In his case, he doesn’t interrupt him, but if it did, that’s an open conversation that you’d need to have.

You’ve got to depersonalise the feedback and take your opinion out of it.

Think of:

  • What did I see?
  • What to expect?
  • What was the impact?

Take the initiative

You must take the initiative because too often, we leave it and be frustrated.

I remember one of our team members who produced brilliant work, but getting stuff back on time was a real issue, and it wasn’t because she didn’t want to do a great job but because we just haven’t set up the workflow correctly.

I wasn’t chasing, I wasn’t keeping her to the deadline, so I trained to that it was okay to get stuff back to me late.

How have you contributed to that issue?

Whether you like it or not, as the owner of the business, you have created the environment for people to flourish or fail. So, where are you to blame? Your role is to facilitate that conversation, but don’t do it when you’re about to bite their head off, do it when you’re calm.

What have you trained them is the norm?

I taught the team that ‘Heather doesn’t look at Trello, so we don’t need to worry about it.’

This is to say that you should take responsibility for how you contribute to team practices that lead to low-performance issues.