Take time to consider your approach

Employment relationships can be strengthened or weakened in performance discussions. If you become aware that an employee is not performing as well as they should be, it’s a good idea to take the time to consider your approach before you speak with them.

There are a variety of reasons for reduced performance. It could be a lack of co-operation from others, the complexity of the task, availability of resources and or support provided. Carefully consider your own leadership style e.g. Do you give clear directions? Have you been available to offer guidance?

Approach the conversation carefully, be respectful, ask questions, don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions before you have listened effectively to the employee’s perspective.

If there is a need to develop performance, adopt an open-minded and consultative approach. People are able to change. People usually know what helps them to change and what stops them. Problems and difficulties may cause people to feel stuck and disempowered.

Every person has inherent strengths and talents. Consider how the person could utilise their strengths to support them to develop and or change.

What supports people to develop and change?

  • Having an open mindset.
  • Having a good reason, commitment to the why.
  • Knowing how to, a clearly defined pathway.
  • Vision of the integrated change (picturing/imagining the end result).
  • Feeling safe.
  • Active participation in developing and implementing the development/change process.
  • Self-confidence and trust in the process.
  • Commitment and perseverance.
  • Monitoring and acknowledgment of progress.

What can managers/leaders do to support people to develop and change?

  • Approach the discussion in a consultative and collaborative spirit.
  • Acknowledge, respect and encourage the person’s capacity for self- determination.
  • Do not make assumptions. Use open questions to explore alternatives.
  • Provide clarity about your expectations.
  • Encourage the person to make the decisions and choices regarding what development and or change is required and how they will achieve it.
  • Give ownership and responsibility for the change to the person.
  • Consider and refer to appropriate resources if required.
  • Regularly monitor and acknowledge progress.

Accountability for agreed performance development is important. Make sure the person follows through with the agreed development goals and that you do what you have promised to do. Timely and regular discussions to monitor and acknowledge progress are essential.


If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand, extraordinary things begin to happen.

L. Gizartis


Your resources are always far greater than you imagine them to be. Never ask, “Can I do this?” Ask instead, “How can I do this?”

D. Zandra


Find out more…

Carol Malcolm is the Director of Workplace Success, a values-based HR Consultancy. Workplace Success develops values-based Human Resource Toolkits that give you the skills, expertise and resources to recruit, manage and lead your workforce successfully.

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