03 Jul 2019

Only Practice Builds Confidence With Difficult Conversations

It might seem obvious, but Performance Management conversations take practice. While they say that practice makes perfect, many managers, leaders and supervisors sorely lack the practice at deliveing targetted (often difficult but most often crucial) performance discussions at work. In most cases, it isn’t their fault. A series of external (business and training) and internal (thought processes) factors contribute greatly to a lack of skilled performance discussions.


Most leaders will:

  • Have received very few performance discussions themselves (from their bosses),
  • Not have been taught simple and effective tools to provide ongoing feedback,
  • Have received no formal training,
  • Have been given little time to practice, discuss or get advice from other managers on the best way to have a performance discussion.
  • Have been given little feedback on whether they did a good job or not

This lack of training, feedback, reflection and time has the opportunity to make mountains out of molehills when it comes to having a discussion with a staff member about their performance. In addition, managers and leaders can worry about a whole series of fears in regards to performance discussions, whether they are real or imagined. These internal factors can include:


  • Fear of getting it wrong,
  • Fear of being labelled a bully,
  • Don’t want to say the wrong thing,
  • Thinking that it is common sense,
  • Hoping that it will work itself out, and
  • A myriad of other internal ‘negative’ thoughts that create excuses, time delays and procrastination around difficult conversations.

Is it any wonder that honest, open and crucial conversations regarding performance are allowed to drift and result in progressively worse performance?

The Solution

Performance management discussions need practice, practice and more practice. Managers, leaders and supervisors need:

  • To be provided the opportunity to learn performance discussion skills from their peers,
  • Be taught a simple and effective method for providing ongoing feedback to their peers and staff,
  • Have a clear understanding of their performance preferences and clearly articulate it to their staff,
  • Have the opportunity to discuss ‘difficult’ issues that they haven’t yet experienced,
  • Have the opportunity to practice conversations in a safe environment where they can make mistakes and learn,
  • Receive feedback on their style, tone, demeanour, body langauge as well as what they have said and prepared,
  • Skill in responding to questions and varying responses  / emotions (frustration, anger, silence, arguing) and ‘push back’

Without these skills, leaders and managers withhold vital feedback to staff regarding performance, and staff continue to complete tasks, actions and behaviours in a way that isn’t suited or needed. What % increase in performance would take place in your business if feedback and coaching was completed skilfully and when needed? How much time (yours and your teams) would be saved if everyone knew what behaviours and actions lead to higher performance and which behaviours dragged the team and performance down?

The Performance Management Essentials Workshop is designed to provide leaders, managers and supervisors with the training, feedback and experience of having difficult conversations. More than just training, the Performance Management Essentials workshop provides leaders with the opportunity to prepare difficult conversation scripts, discuss best options with other managers and skilled facilitators, and practice the discussions with training actors in a controlled learning environment. More than knowledge, this workshop provides leaders with confidence, skill and practice in deliveing feedback and difficult conversations at work. Click on the Link Below to find out more.

Performance Management Essentials workshop

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