Anyone who has ever line managed will undoubtedly have had that sinking feeling at some point, knowing that they need to address some kind of problem with the performance or conduct of one of their team. All line managers should feel reassured that they are not alone in feeling this way.
The good times
When everything is going well, and your team are performing and behaving as you want them to, being a people manager is fantastic. You see great results through your people, and that reflects positively on you. Your bosses think you’re doing a great job and all is right with the world.
The harder times
Unfortunately this perfect world is very unusual, certainly in the long term, and there will be times when you have to address a problem directly with one of your team members. Whether it’s an issue with their performance or their behaviour, no-one looks forward to having a conversation about these issues and addressing it head-on. But it really is the best way to make a change for the better.
Here are some top tips for preparing for, and having those dreaded conversations:
- Don’t wait. If something has gone wrong, address it privately at the first opportunity you have. Don’t wait for the next 1-1 in a month’s time and don’t address it publicly in the open office.
- Prepare. Make notes and identify the problem. Be specific and note exactly what went wrong and what you expected. Be prepared to share this information with the individual.
- Have a conversation. Everyone has a different perspective on any situation, so allow the individual the opportunity to give their view of the situation.
- Keep it objective. Keep it factual, balanced, constructive and objective and try to make sure that it doesn’t get personal, or heated.
- Check for understanding. Seek confirmation that they understand why it was a problem, by asking questions such as ‘Can you understand why this wasn’t appropriate?’ and ‘What do you think you could have done differently?’ Probe them if you feel they don’t fully accept that there was an issue, or take responsibility.
- Follow-up. Tell the individual that you will forward them a summary of what you’ve discussed, so that they can have a record of your expectations. It’s not a formal warning, just provided to support their learning and development.
As managers and business leaders, if you address problems in your teams directly, you can ensure that all your team are contributing to the success of your business. One underperforming team member can do damage to your business success and potentially your brand. By ‘nipping it in the bud’ in a constructive way, you will avoid situations developing and taking a downward spiral. The longer performance or conduct issues go unchecked, the harder it is to address successfully. There’s also more chance of the wider team becoming unhappy.
If you or your management team need support in addressing difficult situations, HelpfulHR can definitely help – whatever the issue. Get in touch, and let’s get them back on track.