Why You Can’t Ignore Poor Performance

I speak with hundreds of franchisees and store managers every year, during training courses and store visits. One of the biggest challenges I hear them say is “having to give negative feedback to my staff.” Most franchisees/managers find this type of feedback confrontational so prefer to ignore it and hope it improves on its own.

Sorry, this is not going to happen. Other reasons to not give feedback include “not having time to have the conversation”, “what if they get upset and leave”, and “it’s not that bad, they’re normally pretty good.”

Unfortunately, this was reinforced when I read a recent article from Harvard Business Review (HBR), that found, according to a 2016 survey from Interact, that 69% of managers said that they’re often uncomfortable communicating with employees. Over a third (37%) of these managers said that they’re uncomfortable having to give direct feedback about their employees’ performance if they think the employee might respond negatively to the feedback.

So, it’s something that affects a lot of managers world-wide, it’s not just an issue here in Australia. This is our (The Retail Solution’s) core focus for the many clients we work with – how to improve poor performance and maintain great performance – all with managers and staff actually enjoying the process.

I’d like to share some thoughts on how you can do this as well.

Firstly, let’s look at some of the key reasons why you must provide consequences for performance – both good and bad:

  • Your staff know how they are doing – are they on track or off track? You need to let them know. As the HBR article explained, it’s like training for a race without a stopwatch and the coach just says – you’re doing well!
  • Staff knows what good looks like and what it doesn’t look like. How can they perform if they have to guess what you want?
  • You can reward the ones who are achieving to keep them motivated – just catch them doing it right and tell them – they are highly likely to keep doing it.
  • You can help the ones who are struggling – as I have said most staff want to do a good job, so I believe most want to know if they can improve.

If there are so many great reasons to do this, what stops us? – we’re back to my staff member might take offense and get upset, plus the other excuses from above. Here’s how to avoid these issues (with most staff):

  • Make sure you know what the area they need to improve on is – spend time evaluating their performance so you know exactly what they need to do to improve.
  • Be specific when you provide feedback – tell the person exactly what the area is that you have identified (eg I noticed you haven’t asked the last 3 customers for their loyalty cards).
  • Avoid asking them “why not?” as this will lead into excuses and blame, instead follow with “why is it important that we do that?” This will result in a much more positive conversation.
  • Follow up and catch them doing it right – praise them as soon as they change their behaviour, this will help to lock the new behaviour in.

The above 4 steps can take as little as 1 – 2 minutes, so the excuse of not having time is irrelevant. I and my team have provided this simple training to thousands of frontline managers and franchisees with outstanding results. If you’d like to know more please let us know how we can help.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.

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