1. Detail work performance
Explain how work performance has deteriorated or is not up to expected standards. Point out the difference between present performance and agreed upon expectations.
2. Allow time for employee response
Allowing an employee to react to what you have told them will counteract feelings of being “railroaded”. Get the employee’s view of the situation.
3. Clarify standards
Be sure the employee understands the requirements of his/her job. Ask the employee for input on how the situation can be corrected.
4. Actively listen
If the employee acknowledges the problem and wants to talk, take the time to listen without interrupting. Express understanding and concern but do not forget the purpose of the meeting.
5. State action plan/discipline steps
Clearly state and describe what will happen. Explain any steps you plan to take and why.
6. Indicate how performance will be monitored
In order to avoid mistrust/confusion, an employee should know, up front, how you plan to review his/her work. Agree on an action plan.
7. Establish follow-up meeting date(s)
Agree on a specific time to meet to review job performance.
8. Encourage the employee
Conclude the meeting with some positive encouraging remarks if possible. Express confidence that the employee can correct the situation
9. Encourage and/or refer to employee assistance
Remind the employee that any problems he/she may be having are confidentially handled through the employee assistance program.
Make a written record of what occurred in the meeting, what was agreed upon and next steps. Forward a copy to HR for the employee’s file.
11. Keep one key question in mind
Remember the key question “What is the behavior?’ Whether a person is angry, impatient, anxious, or easily upset, the main thing you need to remember is to keep the focus of your conversation on behavior. For example, ask the employee: “What needs to happen to stop this situation from occurring again?”, “I
n your opinion, what exactly needs to happen to help this situation change for the better?”
12. Keep the focus on the present and the future
Don’t get caught up in explanations or excuses about past behavior. For example, to move things forward, ask: “What needs to happen next for you to make that change?”, “What possible barriers or problems do you foresee that could come up as you move forward with making some positive changes?”, “How probable do you consider each of these possibilities to be, given our current situation, not past situations”
13. Keep a professional relationship with employees
You must set boundaries. You can still acknowledge the employee’s feelings, but be clear that they need to find some way to move the situation forward by changing their behavior.
14. Be sure you stay in your area of competence
Don’t play the part of counsellor or therapist. You may suspect that you are dealing with an issue that has deep roots (e.g. clinical depression). The best help you can give is to consult with an expert and encourage the person to get the appropriate professional help. Unless it’s relevant to their performance at work, it’s not normally appropriate or desirable to pry or interfere.
15. Discourage over-apologizing
If someone is over-apologizing to you (e.g. “I’m soooo sorry”) then change the subject and take steps to move them towards future actions. For example “Let me stop you there. I accept your apology, thanks. Now let’s talk about next steps and our new agenda”).
16. Create a culture of responsibility-without-blame
If an employee blames other people or circumstances ensure they understand that you are trying to get the situation to change, not place blame. Keep the focus on the future (e.g. “Regardless of why this happened, what exactly needs to happen to make this change?”).
17. Make sure you are in control of the discussion. Always take control of your discussion. The employee must understand that you are serious about requiring a change of behavior otherwise serious (appropriate, relevant) consequences will be there.
18. Be supportive and sincere
There’s a big difference between following a step-by-step procedure and truly attempting to help an employee find a way to resolve a problem situation. Be supportive and sincere because it’s the right thing to do. Or simply do it because it is good business. Hopefully, you will do it for reasons stemming from some combination of both.
19. Start by inviting conversation and validating the relationship
Put the person at ease at the start of your meeting (e.g. “Jennifer, there’s something that’s concerning me and I need to talk to you about it” or “Jim, I want to ask your permission to have a conversation about some concerns I have about you. This could be somewhat personal, I’d like to help”).
20. Be respectful
Respect is an attitude conveyed by specific behaviours—the way you listen, look,tone of voice, your selection of words, the type of reasoning you use all either communicate respect or disrespect. For example: “In the past few weeks I’ve been quite certain that I can smell alcohol on your breath when you arrive for work in the morning and after your lunch breaks. I’m not saying you’re consuming alcohol but it is my impression that you may be.”