If you’re a leader or manager, then I’ve no doubt you’ve experienced team members who underperform, from time to time.
It can feel frustrating, take time to fix—not to mention energy!
When you’re dealing with team members who need to improve, what’s the first thing you tend to do?
A client of mine is struggling with an employee right now, and here’s what she said: “I’m going to have to put her on a PIP.”
It may surprise you to hear this from a former HR Executive, but can I let you in on a secret? I hate Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs).
Hear me out. You have an employee who isn’t performing at the level you’d expected. A few coaching sessions later, you haven’t noticed any real improvement. Your natural tendency might be to think, Uh oh, I’d better start documenting. Then, you bring out the dreaded PIP. Seeing that, your employee is now either likely to be fearful, or to disengage completely—especially because PIPs generally mean that termination is around the next corner.
I’m not naïve. Of course, you need to document what’s happening at some point. But could you have a few conversations first? Maybe dig a little deeper, and build some trust in the process?
After all, there could be a number of things affecting performance. Fear. A lack of trust. Poor training. Scarcity. Personal life issues.
I’ve found that most performance issues have their root in cloudy expectations. You, as the leader, contribute a huge amount to any unclear expectations.
If you ditch the PIP, what alternatives are there? I’m so glad you asked! Here’s a better way that I teach my clients:
Trust is a byproduct of transparency, listening, and allowing the other the autonomy to perform. Having frequent and open conversations with your team and being willing to listen will take you far.
Thanks to a world-wide pandemic, which uprooted every way we knew how to work, there is little separation between the personal and professional. Your conversations may be a blend of both.
Ultimately, your employee must improve; the desired outcome hasn’t changed. But the energy with which you approach the needed improvement is vastly different, and more empowering and uplifting for all.
Mary Pat Knight is CEO of Leaders Inspired – an executive coaching and consulting agency devoted to the development of emotionally intelligent leaders. She is also the author of the Amazon #1 International Best Selling book, The Humanized Leader.
The ground-breaking new book, The Humanized Leader: The Transformative Power of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership to Impact Culture, Team and Business Results, is now available in Kindle, paperback, or as an audiobook. To get your copy – or extras for your team, click the button below.