If you’re a leader, being able to effectively lead the tough, important, critical, crucial, game-changing conversations is a huge piece of being able to succeed. It’s certainly worth reading great resources in this area like Patterson’s Crucial Conversations.
When you need to have a tough conversation with someone based on poor performance, you should first reflect on what you’re trying to accomplish and if you think that person can succeed in your organization (either in the current role or another role) — your discussion should reflect if you’re trying to coach someone who can succeed, or if you need to have a tough conversation with someone who needs to either be in another role, or who should consider another organization. Think about which of these categories might best describe them (and be careful not to only use qualitative feelings to assess this — make sure you’ve clearly communicated goals and expectations and then measured them against those):
- Moderate/high-potential performer who needs coaching/mentoring to succeed in this role
- Moderate/high-potential performer who could succeed in other roles in this organization, but isn’t a good fit for the role he or she is currently in
- Someone you’re not sure about their interest/capability/aptitude to success within this role or other roles in the organization, and you need to quickly find ways to assess that
- Someone who isn’t a good fit for your organization and you probably need to have that tough conversation on if them moving on if the right move for you and them
When someone is on the wrong role, or in the wrong organization, it’s an exhausting and horrible experience for them, you as their leader, and everyone around them.
A more nuanced way to think about this is to assess your people in the classic 9 Box Model to see if they need help moving up their performance axis, based on the potential; or if they’re in the wrong position, team, or organization. The idea is that people get measured on the x-axis of current performance and the y-axis of potential (see below).