To counsel an employee for a performance issue you need to gather all the facts and follow specific steps to have a positive outcome. As a manager you will need to be tactful, specific and timely when dealing with the issue.
Observe The Performance Issue
Before you counsel an employee about a performance issue you need to observe their on-the-job behavior. This way when you meet with them you can describe the situation in detail and clearly communicate to them why it is a problem.
One technique you can use is management by walking around. When you practice this on a daily basis you can be proactive in dealing with a problem before it even becomes a performance issue. By using this technique you will be able to observe and record the specific performance issue you need to address.
How To Counsel
Once you gather all the facts about the performance issue you need to have a one-on-one meeting with the employee.
Most people do not take criticism well so be tactful in how you communicate with the employee. You want to create a constructive dialogue that will lead to a resolution of the performance issue. Do not berate, raise your voice or intimidate the employee. Instead start with a positive tone by highlighting their good work, then lead into the issue.
- Clearly communicate what the issue is and explain why it is a problem. Be very specific.
- Ask questions about the issue to make sure you have all the facts. Use open-ended questions to give the employee an opportunity to explain things in their own words.
- Ask the employee what they think is a solution to the issue. Having them come up with the solution will help create ownership and get their commitment to solving the performance issue.
- If their answer is not satisfactory clearly communicate to them what they need to do to correct the issue. Ask them to repeat back the solution so you both clearly understand what is expected of the employee.
- Get a commitment from the employee to the plan to improve the performance issue.
- Set a time frame for resolution of the performance issue and schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss their progress.
- Continue to observe the employee to be sure they are correcting the problem and give immediate feedback if needed.
photo credit: Marmot