By Coach Mike

I recently was having a conversation with a leader in another industry, where they were explaining to me some low-performance issues with a leader in one of the departments they managed. So, I asked him to give me some details around the issues.

They then explained some of the persistent problems that have been occurring in this department for months. I asked them what the next step would be. My colleague told me that he intended to move this leader to another department that would be less impactful on the business.

At this point, I realized my colleague was avoiding addressing the issue head-on. I immediately challenged him to confront the issue before transferring him to another department. He was a little surprised, but I explained further. I said there’s no way to avoid confronting this problem head-on. If you don’t choose to do it now, and you move this employee to another department, there’s a real chance the problem will follow this leader. You will have this conversation at a later time after much pain, grief and suffering. So, my colleague agreed and let me lead him through a few practical steps that are simple when dealing with a situation like this.

1) Prepare your notes and schedule a meeting time with the leader in question. It’s important to have some light conversation before diving into the problem. If you have an HR department, always contact them for their support.

2) Always invite another manager/leader to join you. Never meet with the opposite sex alone.

3) Thank them for any recent accomplishments or point out areas they are achieving their goals in, before diving into the problem. Spend 2 or 3 minutes only on this.

4) Let them know why you are meeting with them today.

5) Professionally and directly cover the areas that need to be corrected.   Have examples, paperwork, testimonies or anything else to make your point.

6) Ask them to paraphrase what they heard you say. They should be able to repeat what you said and what is expected from them going forward.

CAUTION: If the leader begins to get defensive, change the subject or talk about issues unrelated to why they are sitting down with you today. This is called side bars.

You should make some general notes about what you’re saying and bring them back to the topic of the meeting today. Remind them that you can reschedule another time with them to deal with other issues, but today you are addressing the problem before us.

Now is the time to present them with a personal improvement plan or some action plan with a specific time frame for things to be accomplished and check in times. The action plan should be completed before you meet with them.

Lastly, make sure they understand that this problem rest solely on their shoulders although you’re here to support them they own it, and they are responsible for correcting their behavior.

If this person wants to stay with your company, you should see an immediate change in their work behavior and their ability to lead with passion, desire, and effort.

If at the end of the first scheduled check-up meeting you see no improvement, re-confirm the guidelines on the plan and remind them of your second meeting. If no improvement has happened by the second meeting, obviously it’s time for the human resource department to be heavily involved in steps to remove the team member.

Believe me, this is a better course of action than moving this person to another department. Follow up with your human resource department for support on this process.