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In Print The Essentials

Handling Unsatisfactory Performance

conflict resolution

One of the most difficult parts of managing people is addressing poor performance or behavioral issues. With this in mind, here are a few tips for addressing issues in the most effective ways possible.

Address it ASAP. Usually the longer you wait to address an issue the worse it gets. Think through the outcome you’re looking for and the best way to accomplish it. Then meet with the employee privately to discuss. Do not wait for an all-staff meeting or a performance review to address the issue for the first time.

Separate the person from the issue. Don’t make these conversations come across as a personal attack on their character. Instead try to focus on the specific performance or behavioral issue that you’re trying to address. 

Be specific. Try not to generalize the employee’s behavior. Usually the employee knows he or she is under-performing, but don’t know exactly how to improve. That’s where you come in — provide the staff member with specific action items that will improve the situation.

Avoid sarcasm. The employee’s performance issue is a reflection of him or her — how you address it is a reflection of you. Be professional throughout this process, don’t be sarcastic or demeaning. Remember, you’re there to help.

Give options on how to rectify the situation. Usually there is more than one way to improve a situation. Review the options and help find the one that is best for the employee to succeed.

Involve the staff member in the solution. When employees are involved in coming up with a solution for their own performance or behavioral issues, they are more likely to change the behaviors.

Provide affirmation and encouragement. Try to leave every conversation with an employee on a positive note. A manager’s job is to help employees be the best they can be. A great way to do that is through encouragement and showing you care about their success — not just the job that they’re doing for you.


Chez Misko is the COO of Wisconsin Athletic Club. Email him at chez@thewac.com.

Chez Misko

Chez Misko is the COO of Wisconsin Athletic Club.

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