The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Managing Performance

Managing performance does not have to be complicated. But it does have to be deliberate if you want to keep top talent. These tips will help!

We often talk about performance management and how we can turn employees around. I have to admit; I am often cynical that sometimes it’s time to just move people out. I guess after 30 years of working with employees, I wonder if it’s worth the effort. But of course we know, it is. Why? Because often you’ve put months or years into training, they know your processes and often your customers. And of course, the magical reason that if you fire them you have to start all over!

A recent article in a human resources magazine put together 11 steps when talking about performance, and it reminded me again that it is worth the effort to “save” employees. Some of the tips that really rang true with me were the ideas of not delaying the conversation, and don’t make the conversation about chitchat. When a performance issue comes up, hit it head on. Talk to the employee as soon as possible, and be very clear with the changes you expect to occur. I recommend a fairly short time frame to revisit the conversation and ensure the changes you need are still happening.

One tip I share with managers in my performance management session is to follow up with a written email restating the conversation. Today, many of our employees are in more “white collar” positions, and it feels uncomfortable to ask them to sign written documentation. However, you should have the conversation documented in writing. If you send an email saying thanks for being open to my feedback, I look forward to your improved performance, the written documentation is automatic. Your internal system should be able to capture the sent email and document that the employee received it.

Don’t get hung up with the employee on why the situation occurred. Rather tell them your expectations, and then ask if there is anything the company can do to support their change. Make it clear you are interested in improvement and long term success. Allow the employee to talk without judgement, and try to come up with a solution together. In the end, be firm with your expectations and what the outcome will will if change does not occur.

And when all else fails, don’t be afraid to separate an unproductive or disruptive employee. I have countless conversations with small business leaders discussing human resources who spend hours on negative talent, and lose their top employees because no one is paying attention to them. Spend your time and energy on top talent, and you will see the productivity of your entire team increase when the “dead weight” is escorted out the door.

Lori Kleiman is an HR expert who presents to business people and groups. Click here to see a video of Lori in action. If you’d like to have Lori keynote one of her HR presentations at your upcoming event, click here, or email Lori directly at!
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