We all know that quality Performance Conversations lead to better results; however, far too often, things like our emotions, procrastination or getting tongue-tied get in the way of us having the type of skilful conversation that we really want to have.

The fact is, managers must be able to discuss performance and behavioural issues with confidence.

It’s not always easy.  

The MasterClass extract in the below video is about building your critical conversation toolkit so that you can confidently and painlessly discuss the difficult issues, even the really difficult issues.

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[Video Transcription Below]

What is a Painless Performance Conversation?

It’s a conversation that achieves progress towards to an outcome.

It’s a conversation where you’re talking about an issue of concern where the outcome is uncertain and the situation requires your influence.

It’s a conversation where you’re separating actions from attitudes, you’re focusing on evidence and facts, you’re using curiosity to expand possibilities and you’re creating ownership.

I statement Assertive,performance conversationsThere will almost always be emotions present.

It is not possible to leave the emotions out of a performance conversation. Human beings are emotional creatures.

The pain diminishes from these sensitive conversations when we focus on helping the other person.

We focus on moving forward and we focus on making progress.

A Painless Performance Conversation is one where you care about the other person, you care about the issue and your success and theirs is dependent on things changing.

Let’s contrast that by looking at the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve…

What makes a Painful Performance Conversation painful?

Performance Conversations become painful due to the difficult or sensitive issues that need to be resolved.

They can be quite personal as we might be talking about inappropriate or entrenched behaviour that needs to be changed. Or something that has gone very wrong.

Where does the pain come from?

It comes from the emotions. The emotions that are happening on both sides.

Emotions like:

  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Uncertainty
  • Disappointment
  • Being wrong
  • Feeling ashamed
  • Feeling guilty
  • From avoidance (and the tension that has built up from the avoidance)
  • And of course, from defensiveness.

We discuss the Silence to Violence Continuum in strategy 3 of the Great Managers® Academy: these conversations can easily shut down (go to Silence) or flare up (go to Violence).

Types of Difficult Performance Conversations:

Difficult Performance Conversations could be about:

inner strength,performance conversations

  • Complaints from a customer
  • Inappropriate behaviour, perhaps someone’s not contributing to the team, not pulling their weight or any other pattern of behaviour that is impacting on others or your results.
  • Really big mistakes that have been made, or
  • Breaching company policy.

When you think you’ve set clear expectations and an employee has behaved in a way that doesn’t meet your expectations, your conversation needs to focus on the gap between what you expect and what you’re experiencing.

You need to bridge that gap.

Now if there is a gap, either the employee doesn’t know what you expect or they don’t have the knowledge or skills to meet your expectations.  Or perhaps they don’t want to meet your expectations.

Your job as the manager is to identify what the gap is and close it skillfully through your performance conversation.

Click here for part 2 of Painless Performance Conversations where you will discover if you are an Avoider or a Controller.

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