I’m going to cut to the chase in this bulletin. Please forgive me if I offend you. And please know that I am well-intended and here to help…
There are lots of disturbing things about poor performance. And the most disturbing aspect by far is how common it is for leaders to tolerate poor performance!
Poor performance could be caused by a lack of skills—such as technical skills or interpersonal skills. Or because there’s a lack of awareness about expectations—such as unclear goals or cultural misunderstandings. Or due to a lack of motivation—such as a shortage of the care-factor or over-demanding stressors in the family.
The reason performance is below par actually doesn’t matter at this point.
But It Matters A Lot If Performance Is Poor Because Of A Lack Of Candid Feedback From You, The Poor Performer’s Boss
No complaining about them unless you’ve had more than two candid, feedback-giving conversations with them, OK?
If you’re a leader and you’re not dealing with poor performance in your team it’s career limiting for you, yes. But worse, you’re simply not doing your job as a leader:
Managing Performance is a Crucial Part of Your Leadership Role
The Costs Of Poor Performance Are Huge
The costs of putting up with below-par performance are huge when we consider:
- Your poor performing team member’s low efficiency, low output and high error rate
- The impact of the poor performer on the rest of the team’s productivity. How often do they need to do fixes and re-work things? And how much time are your other team members spending talking (aka complaining) at the water cooler?
- Team morale always suffers when a person notices another team member “getting away with” below par performance. And they always notice.
Have You Had An Honest Conversation With The Poor Performer?
Warning! This bit may offend some of you. Remember that I’m on your side—I want you to be an exemplary, promotable leader…
It’s not OK for you to:
- Have the poor performer transferred to another team?
- Look for a reason to retrench them?
- Complain to your peers about them.
Let’s be clear—you not having the feedback conversation is a lose-lose, tension-escalating situation.
What’s Behind You Not Having A Candid Conversation About Performance?
I’ll put money on the fact that there are two reasons you’re not giving your team member candid feedback:
- You habitually avoid initiating difficult conversations and confronting conflict
- You don’t feel competent in facing up to tricky situations or difficult people.
Well, I’m pleased to share some good news here …
The capacity to deal with both of these is not some inherent ability that “gifted” leaders are born with. We’re talking about learned skills. I help leaders develop real competence in this area almost every day of the week.
Putting your head in the sand and pretending the problem isn’t there is not a solution, especially if you’re angling for a promotion.
To be a top-notch leader you need to develop competence in how to deal with difficult situations.
You can learn to be proficient with WHAT you do and HOW you do it.
Your Call To Action
- Conflict aversion is not a promotable quality
- Managing a team member’s poor performance is an important part of your leadership job
- How to deal with conflict is something that can be learned. And this will mean you can stop running away from it, once and for all.
As you develop your skills in dealing with the tough and the difficult, you’ll be surprised at how boldly and persuasively you’ll deal with the tough and difficult—and accelerate your career.
If you need coaching support with this and want to know what that would look like, email me suggesting a good time for us to have a phone conversation.
“Having a variety of interpersonal strategies gave me more confidence that I’ll manage difficult situations constructively. Your support and encouragement helped me to change my perspective on my situation and inspired me to make positive changes in my work (and life) situation. I feel more courageous.”
– Leader, mental health field
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.