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Getting Over Your Fear of Performance Management Conversations

Getting Over Your Fear of Performance Management ConversationsManagers work hard to avoid performance management conversations. In fact, for one of my clients, I’m pretty certain they work overtime trying to avoid having these conversations! They dread them that much.

Performance management conversations are necessary and these are frequently conversations employees want their managers to have with them. For the client mentioned above, I frequently hear from employees that they wish they had more conversations with their manager about how they are doing. They perceive that their manager either does not care about them or does not even know what they do or how they do it.

Let’s explore just a few reasons that managers do not want to have performance management conversations:

  • The process does not make sense. Sometimes the forms used are complicated and the amount of paperwork to be completed seems never-ending. Often the rating scale used is ambiguous.
  • Fear of the conversation. Conversations with employees who are not performing well are difficult to have. There is a fear of arguments with employees or that the manager may say the wrong thing in get in trouble with Human Resources.
  • Not understanding exactly what the employee is doing. The manager is not necessarily watching everything the employee is doing on a day-to-day basis; and there may be times when the employee is doing project work outside of the scope of his/her regular responsibilities.

And here is how we might address these concerns over having performance management conversations:



Process does not make sense

  • Have managers involved in evaluating the current process to improve upon it.

Fear of the conversation

  • Have regular conversations throughout the year with employees about performance in one-on-one meetings rather than just once during the performance review process.
  • Provide managers with mini scenarios of potential difficult conversations with suggestions on how to have the conversation.

Not understanding exactly what the employee does

  • Regular one-on-one meetings with employees enable for a better understanding of the work they are doing including when they are taking on extra responsibilities.
  • Work with employees to understand how to measure success of their efforts.

We will these options in more depth in future posts over the next week.

Next up – How to Evaluate Your Current Performance Management Process