In our conversational coaching clinics, we’re often asked about the challenges of talking to people about performance issues. They’re one of the most commonly avoided and widely feared species of difficult discussions. Most of us would rather walk on hot coals than have to conduct a conversation with a low performer.
But if it’s painful for you to conduct the conversation, what about the person whose performance is under question?
Whether you’re a solid performer or someone who sometimes struggles, we often turn up feeling uneasy, anxious or a bit defensive, even if we know there’s no need. You’d think this paranoia only pertains to poor performers – but even high performers can tend to shy away from them.
And these anxieties can apply just as much to managers as they do to staff. They can feel under-prepared and ill-equipped, especially if the conversation is going to be a bit testy or touchy
, but let’s not forget the other key player. While it’s up to leaders to make it safe for staff to engage and deal with defensiveness, it’s also up to staff to overcome any natural dislike they may have of them and approach performance conversations in constructive and positive ways to identify things that enable them to do their job better and grow. That way, everyone wins.
Painless performance conversations may not be entirely
possible – though some leaders I’m sure would like a supply of
anaesthetics handy! So next time you’re in the dentist chair, why not
distract yourself constructively by thinking of how you can handle your
next poor performance conversation differently…
Dealing with Defensiveness
Organisations spend thousands on performance management programs, training and systems software but in the end many managers play Hamlet and still procrastinate, sidestep or totally avoid having conversations with low performers.
Even the most seasoned managers can come up with a multitude of excuses for avoiding or delaying a difficult performance conversation. Here’s a few we most commonly hear:
Any of these sound familiar? Of course, you can’t let poor performance go and here’s the main reason: it’s simply not fair to others on your team who are performing w
More Articles and tips on the subject of difficult performance conversations in Issue-13 of our CC E-News...