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Written by: Merri L. Lemmex

Well, for most of us, managing performance is one of the single hardest things we encounter as leaders. We’d like to think we do a great job, but we really can’t take credit for great performance – that is usually the doing of our motivated, engaged employees. Our “problem children” – now that is a different story.

So why is it so hard? Because we want to be nice – we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings – and quite frankly, it is awkward and difficult to deal with poor performance. Though I have used it many times over the years, my Wishing & Hoping Strategy has just not worked for me to get poor performers on the right track.

So, what can you do to make it easier on you, and get your performer back on track? Stop wasting your time trying to motivate them. Forget coaching. Quit trying to solve their problem. This is their choice and they need to be accountable.

First give feedback – be clear what performance you expect and be clear with your feedback. If you have a chronically tardy employee, make sure they understand what is expected of them, and how their performance stacks up. Don’t dance around the issue or be vague about performance – give direct, factual feedback. (Giving direct, factual feedback will be the hardest part of dealing with performance.)

“I have been watching you and last week on Friday you were at your desk ready to start at 9:45. Monday it was 9:15, Tuesday 9:20, and today you did not settle in until 10:00. The rest of us depend on you to be at your desk working.”

Second state your expectation – be very clear what their job is and what constitutes meeting expectations.

“Bob, I expect you here at 8:30 every morning. That is at your desk, computer booted up, ready to work – not pulling into the parking lot, and then taking another half hour to get your coffee and catch up with your friends.”

Third let them know the consequences of not meeting expectations – this is not a threat but a statement of fact.

“If you choose not to be punctual, I will need to replace you with someone who will.”

Forth, let them know how you will follow up, and be sure to follow up!

“I need someone I can depend on in your position. I will be here every morning for the next month monitoring you. The next time you are late, you will get a written notice, and one more late episode and you will be terminated.”

At this point, it is their choice. You have given them the steps to succeed. You have also sent a very clear message to Bob’s co-workers that you are making sure he pulls his weight and does his job, so he is not a burden on them. Follow up with Bob and let him know how his performance stacks up.

For most employees, they are blissfully unaware of how their behaviour impacts others and this wake-up call is enough to get them on track. For some though, they will no care, and they make the choice of whether they really want to work for you or not.

Keep in mind – a person’s performance is their choice. As a manager, it is yours to help them make it. Forget wishing and hoping, get out there and manage performance