Fierce conversation or continued frustration?

When was the last time you had a conversation with your weakest link, your lowest-performing direct report; the individual not doing what you want them to do?

Far too many business owners hire individuals based on a strong resume, an enjoyable in-person interview, because they are a family member or relation to a friend, or because a warm body is needed.

Once on the payroll, the owner expects the employee to not just understand the job and perform the assigned tasks, but to do the assignments at the highest quality level without further coaching or evaluation.

Do you have anyone like that at your company, or working directly for you?

One difficult task of supervising is taking the time to do a performance appraisal well. An annual raise or a bonus is simply not sufficient enough feedback for anyone.

Neither is merely saying “keep up the good work” which means next to nothing, because there is no point of reference to the statement. No matter how often you say it.

If you have even one employee, coaching can only take place by taking the time to have difficult, perhaps even fierce conversations.

Taking the time to prepare for what many owners dread more than going to a doctor or missing an already paid for vacation is the mark of a professional.

Because, in the end, the more difficult conversation an owner has, the better the company they own becomes.

Perhaps in your company the HR department has devised and provided a system to evaluate performance consisting of forms and processes for those that supervise employees.

All well and good, but if the supervisor doesn’t perform the appraisal, doesn’t take the time to sit down to thoughtfully consider the employee as an asset to the organization, there is not much human resources can do about it except cajole or motivate to get the paperwork in.

As the owner, put yourself in the shoes of one of your supervisors. Your supervisors do not want to perform performance appraisals because they do not want to be in the difficult position of having to criticize an employee.

What they do instead is grumble all year long (and you have either heard the grumblings or made some yourself), all the while making comments to everyone else about performance that is not up to standard.

The employee, meanwhile, believes that they are doing an acceptable job. The employee might well think that they are doing a fantastic job, because the last official feedback heard from anyone was also: “keep up the good work.”

How often do you walk around your company telling people the exact same thing?

Keep up the good work is verbalized, but inside your head is pounding with frustration and it is all you can do to keep from yelling at the employee who doesn’t have a clue that they frustrate you beyond comprehension.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way.

Without having a fierce conversation, you will get increasingly frustrated by the lack of performance by the employee in question and the employee will wonder why you act like Jekyll and Hyde.

Either the employee will change or they will leave your company. Either way you win.

Put on your big boy or big girl pants and have the conversation.

Owners I know speak of taking their company to the next level. This means the owner has to go to the next level first. The owner has to prepare themselves for the next level of leadership in order to lead their employees.