No one wants to critique an employee’s negative performance. And no one wants to get a negative performance review. But if an employee is slipping and hasn’t self-corrected, there is no way around it.
Performance reviews boost productivity and drive engagement. A negative performance review can do that, too, if you frame it correctly.
Here are four ways to deal with an employee who is missing the mark without sending them into a downward spiral.
Start with a Self-Assessment
The worst part of a negative performance review tends to be the surprise with which it is met. If the employee thinks things are still going okay or if they’re trying so hard to tread water that they don’t see their performance, then hitting them with criticism can do lasting damage.
One way to ease into the process is to give your employee a chance to take a lead. A self-assessment gives you both a clear, honest idea of where they think they are and how they perceive their work.
Then, you can find places to naturally start a conversation. Plus, it allows you to see if their performance has less to do with failure and more to do with a difference in expectations.
Identify and Develop Strengths
No one is good at everything. Everyone learns and grows differently. These two principles are important to keep in mind during your performance review.
So rather than focusing solely on what’s going wrong, look for the reasons why, and start asking whether it’s an issue of you prioritizing your employee’s strengths.
Remember: you can’t ask a marathoner to sprint or vice versa without seeing a drop in performance. It doesn’t mean their not a good employee. It just requires realigning roles and expectations.
Use Your Emotional Intelligence
Your ability to deliver bad news has less to do with the message and more to do with your delivery. You’ll rely heavily on your emotional intelligence as you navigate the review.
One of the most difficult things you’ll learn to do is manage your own expectations when your employee doesn’t just have bad habits — they’re also a problem employee.
It’s important to stay calm and collected regardless of what way the talk goes. You don’t want to inflame the situation because no one wins.
Frame It as a Chance to Succeed
The only thing worse than getting a poor performance review is knowing that you’ve been doing something wrong for weeks — or even months — and no one told you.
So rather than framing a negative performance review as something ‘bad,’ reframe the whole experience as a chance to succeed. If you can reframe it in your mind, you will not only be able to better deliver the news, but you’ll dread it less and won’t feel as drained afterward.
Negative Performance Reviews Can Be Positive Opportunites
No one becomes a leader so they can dole out criticism all day. Unfortunately, it’s part of the territory. However, you can deliver these reviews in a way that creates an opportunity for growth for both the employee and the whole team.
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