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Difficult Conversations – Friend or Foe

In a recent AHRI networking forum, one of the panelists talked about poor performance being a difficult conversation.

This got me thinking…why is it a difficult conversation?

My first thought was that we as a business population have created a huge generational perception around what it is to have a conversation about performance expectations not being met. If you believe it’s going to be difficult, guess what, it will be.

My next thought was around how do leaders and managers get better at this. By practicing the whole questioning set with good feedback. What do I mean?

When we give good feedback, at its best, we say what it was and why it was a good job. What if we added to this “what the reason was for being able to perform well?”

We expect our leaders and managers to explore this often emotion loaded question with poor performance to understand why it is what it is, what the reason behind the persons performance being poor.

If leader and managers started to master this skill by understanding the reason ,behind the for good performance then not only do we start practice to create a great coaching and feedback habit, we also gain incredibly valuable feedback on our employees’ motivators and wellbeing and even more valuable insights on how as leaders/managers you can support them to achieve high levels of performance more regularly.

As an added bonus, you build a relationship they invites more openness, which as you might be guessing, will make that employee feel more comfortable to share when things are out of balance for them at work or in life.

So here’s an evolved feedback process, from the traditional EEC model for you:

1. Example: What specifically did the employee do that was good

2. Effect: what was the effect/impact of that behaviour, piece of work

3. Change/Continue: depending on whether it was poor or good performance/behaviour discuss what could be changed/continued

4. What do you feel helped/hindered you in creating this success?

There’s definitely more coaching questions that could be added to this that will help you delve a little deeper…but start with baby steps.

If more questions come to you naturally in the conversation, ask them.

Bhavna Patel