October, 12th, 2016

tough-conversations-quote“Jim, I can’t put my finger on just one thing that has changed. But, things are just smoother, easier almost. It just doesn’t take the crazy effort to get things done like it use to. I don’t think we realized all the wasted energy and time but we do now. Things are great.” This was from a conversation I was having with one of my clients. We came to the conclusion the main reason for the big change was that they were truly running their business using an operating system (EOS) and had really focused on getting all the right people in the right seats. It took a lot of tough conversations to make that happen. This feeling he had, that is why I do what I do. To get companies to this place. One of the biggest attributes of this “place” is getting all the right people in the right seats.

Last month, we talked about how there are really only three choices when dealing with people issues. What we didn’t talk about was how and when to have those conversations. If you would like to get to this place, that my client talks about above, you are going to have to have some difficult conversations. Let’s talk about the best way to have those.

So there is a Performance Gap. Now What?

Here’s a situation that I have heard a number of times. You have a team member that has been struggling. You sit down with the Leadership Team to discuss the concern and end up using the People Analyzer. An awesome EOS tool that helps you truly see if they are right person in the right seat. The results show they are below the bar, less than what we would expect. You are a good leader so you know you need to explain the gap in their performance so you set-up a meeting right away. In this meeting, you go through the results of the People Analyzer and give them three data points for each of the areas they are below the bar and some pats on the back for where they are excelling. You let them know that something needs to change and ask them how they are going to do that.

Don’t Fix it For Them

Let’s take a break in the action. This is an important part of the conversation. You have had the tough part of explaining the deficiency and were smart enough to know that you had to have three data points so they couldn’t explain away the issue. You are now at the critical place where you have to make sure that you are not the person fixing their problem. Many of the leaders I work with make this critical mistake. They give the person the answer of how to fix the issue and don’t let them own their solution. This approach is much less effective. Let them build the plan on how they are going to adjust. Back to our story.

They walk you through what they think needs to happen to make the corrections as you ask questions to help nail down the right approach. You then ask, as their manager, what you can do to help make this plan a success. At this point, set the next meeting date (usually 30 to 45 days out) and make sure it is clear that you will help them to really get things turned around but that there will only be two more meetings before we will need to make a more permanent change.

At the next meeting, if they the People Analyzer shows they are now above the bar, pour on the praise. If not, let them know that this is the final stretch. Ask them what their new plan of attack is. Help them build their own plan and let them know you are there to support them in anyway you can. Set the third meeting date (another 30 to 45 days) so they know their timeline. If meeting three comes around and they are still not there, then have the tough conversation to terminate employment.

Don’t Just do Parts and Pieces

I find that my leaders are doing parts and pieces of this approach. Just this morning, one manager said he was going through this process but they were on meeting number 5. He never gave the guy a deadline. I had another example last week where the manager never set the date for the next meeting so his meetings two and three weren’t happening.

Don’t make these mistakes. There really is value in this approach. Be open and honest with your team. Give them strikes when needed. Help them in anyway you can. Then focus on the fact that the greater good is always the company. Good luck with your tough conversations, and making your company great.

Next Steps

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