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Anil Kumar Misra

"FEEDBACK TO POOR PERFORMERS- SUGGESTED GUIDELINES IN A GIST "

Anil Kumar Misra
Head-Business HR
IT Services
 
Anil Kumar Misra is a university topper and gold medalist in HR with about 15 years of work experience in training,teaching and Corporates.He is currently working as the Senior Manager & Head-Business HR,IT Services,ES&OD in Tesco HSC Bangalore.Before joining Tesco,he had worked with Patni computer Systems Limited,EIH Limited-Oberoi group of Hotels & resorts,GMR Hyderabad Airport Resource Management Limited,Denso Haryana and Enercon India Limited.

MANAGING POOR PERFORMANCE- THE PREMISE

Performance Management makes up a significant part of every managers job description, and inadvertently this involves managers to deal with poor performance. Managers often view this as one of the less desirable responsibilities because too often our perception of managing poor performance is clouded by uncomfortable situations. The underlying fact is that managing poor employee performance should be something thats done in a timely fashion at the first sign of a deviation from expected results.

When poor performance goes unaddressed for long periods of time, as too often it does, it can become a major problem and manifest itself into a situation that can blow out of control. Giving feedback on performance is always a delicate matter; giving feedback on poor performance is even more so and needs careful structuring and preparation.

Given below are 13 guiding principles which will help in conducting an efficacious feedback session with the poor performers.

  • PRIOR TO THE MEETING
1. Prepare: Document the performance throughout the year to keep track and be readily available when review time comes. Ensure that your documentation contains dates and specific details of the performance expectations, discussions on the performance or behavior with the employee and performance incidents. This helps to establish that the performance review is centered on the work performance, and not the managers personal opinion.

Familiarize yourself with the performance review categories ahead of time. Look over the performance review form in order to know what you should be looking for to elucidate. Specific examples that are in line with the categories will give the employee a better picture

If employee performance information was obtained from a third-party, verify its accuracy.

  • POINTERS FOR THE MEETING

2. Do not Procrastinate: Failure to confront immediately is what causes much distress around the idea of communicating poor performance. When managers consistently discuss at the first sign of deviation, the process of managing poor performance will be potentially a beneficial exercise.

3. Do it in Private: Prepare a private place to perform the employee review. Plan to give the employee performance review in an area free of distraction and separated from other employees for confidentiality of information being dispensed

4. Set the Tone: Too often the managers spend a lot of energy in overdoing explanations, building up to the announcement or circling around the hard truth in the middle. Keep the message brief, direct, and dont sugar-coat it. Mind your tone of voice and choose your words wisely.

5. Avoid Confusion: Avoid making confusing statements such as "But overall, youve been doing a really great job." to make the employee feel comfortable. Do not confront and praise in the same interaction.

6. Take Ownership: If youre the one to provide the feedback on the performance, assume ownership of the decision. If you are giving the message, you have to own it. Saying that you have nothing to do with the decision && it is indeed a pronouncement of the higher authorities is pure sacrilege.

7. Employ Data: Use factual information to state your case and focus on behaviour. Use only as many facts as you need to make your case. Dont overload the conversation with data or you will start to sound accusing.

8. Focus on the Performance, not on the person. Ensure that you do not make personal attacks & focus on evaluating the performance at work. You create an immediate barrier when you criticize the person. Point out the difference between present performance and agreed upon expectations.

9. Acknowledge Explanation: After you have elucidated regarding the performance aspects, give the other person a chance to respond to or refute your statements. Since the review is not a monologue exercise, listen to what the employee has to say. Even if you do not intend to change your decision, acknowledge the explanations.

10. Steel yourself Against Denials: During the discussion, steel yourself for any emotional outburst. There will be many reasons cited why your assessment is faulty. They may be shared with strong denial emotion, accusations, vocal rants or crying. When it has run its course, empathize & return to the issues.

11. Explain the Implications: Detail the concerns if things continue as they are. You need to voice your opinion to add impact to your case and subtly state the consequences incase the performance levels do not improve.

12. Charting & Implementing the Course of action. If the next course of action is to chalk a developmental plan to aid the employee to work on his performance, discuss the same in detail. The session is not to focus on the criticism alone but to mutually agree to work towards progress. If there has been no improvement despite all efforts, the organization has no option but to part ways.

The Managing out decision needs to be communicated in an effective manner. Apart from the aforementioned guidelines, you would have to ensure few additional steps are taken to ensure amicable parting.

Prepare a draft that summarizes the situation and steps that are followed as part of managing out process.

Always have two people in the meeting aside from the employee). You need someone to effectively witness that the process was carried out properly. Usually it would be the HR representative along with the Manager

Do not engage in any detailed discussion as to the reasons for dismissal and do not open doors to entertain talks to give yet another chance.

Be sure that the person knows that their performance in this particular job doesnt mean they are less of a person. They, undoubtedly, have other talents and skills.

Offer to do what you can to help the person transition to another job/company.

Communicate regarding the documents that they would receive, payments due & the time when they would be disbursed

Its common to disable computer accounts & collect company property. Make sure the process does not compromise with the dignity of the individual

• Once done, accompany them to their work environment so they can pack up and leave. The person may want to say some goodbyes or wait until an evening as it is embarrassing to do it in front of their peers. Use your discretion to make the parting a painless one.

Do what you can to provide a genuine parting gesture that says that you still value them as a person

13. Keep a paper trail of your discussions. After each meeting with the poor performer, take notes that summarize the discussions. In your documentation, include the problem, the action taken, the dates, the result that occurred, and any comments that will help you to provide evidence if required in the future.

TO SUMMARIZE

Employee performance reviews must be performed and given in a specific manner in order to be efficacious. Feedback, even if it hurts temporarily, is beneficial to an employee, because it allows the employee to grow. The pointers mentioned in the draft provide the guidelines to be followed while reviewing poor performance & by no means are they an exhaustive set of principles to deal with such situations. Make sure you use your discretion & judgement to handle surprises which you might encounter during the review meetings. To surmise; plan well, document effectively, provide timely, constructive & transparent feedback to the poor performers to ensure efficacy.

Dos Donts
Prepare & Plan Do not Procrastinate:
Do it in Private Do not engage in personal attacks
Set the Tone Do not do all the talking
Take Ownership Do not use confusing phrases
Use Factual Information Do not Pass the Buck on to someone else
Explain the Implications Do not lose your composure
Maintain Documentation Donts