Performance conversations are an essential part of managing a team, and are critical for ensuring that everyone is working effectively and efficiently. However, these discussions can often be difficult and challenging, especially when addressing performance problems. Our checklist provides guidance on how to navigate these difficult conversations in a way that is effective, respectful, and supportive of your team members.

Our checklist is only one of the key components of an effective performance conversation, and provides strategies for how to address performance problems in a way that is constructive and helps your team members grow and develop. Whether you're a seasoned manager or a new leader, this guide will help you build the skills and confidence you need to have productive performance conversations with your team.

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This mission of this monthly newsletter is to capture and distribute what we at The People Engagement Experts have picked up that passes as wisdom in a form that is directly practical and useful. What trainers like me might call 'takeaways'. Things like infographics, checklists, and templates. Bookspresentations and training courses are great (as an author, speaker & trainer, I would say that) but most days they're a bit much and people have work to do. This newsletter will feature one short-form tool each month. This month, it’s our infographic and checklist on how to talk through performance problems with one of your team.

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Preparation is key to having an effective performance conversation with a team member. To prepare for the discussion, it's important to gather information and data on the performance issue. This will help you to be clear and objective in your feedback, and it can also serve as a reference point during the conversation.

Next, you should set clear and realistic expectations for the discussion. This can include the tone of the conversation, the length of time you plan to dedicate to it, and the specific outcome you hope to achieve. By setting these expectations, you can help ensure that the conversation stays on track and is productive for both parties.

Finally, it's important to identify your goals for the conversation. Are you looking to simply provide feedback and offer guidance, or do you hope to work with the team member to develop a plan for improvement? Understanding your goals will help you to stay focused during the conversation and ensure that you are able to achieve the outcome you hope for.

Conducting an effective performance conversation with a team member requires creating a safe and open environment where both parties can openly communicate and work together to find solutions. Here are steps to guide the conversation:

Begin the conversation by acknowledging the team member's strengths and contributions to the team. Express your commitment to helping the team member improve their performance. Encourage open and honest communication, and let the team member know that their perspective is valued.

Use data and specific examples to explain the performance issue, rather than making assumptions or relying on generalizations. Avoid blaming or making personal attacks. Instead, focus on the behaviour or actions that are causing the performance issue.

Listen actively to the team member's perspective, and ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of the issue. Acknowledge the team member's feelings and concerns, and seek to find common ground.

Work with the team member to develop a plan to address the performance issue.

Encourage the team member to take an active role in finding solutions, and support their efforts. Ensure that the plan is realistic, and set clear and measurable goals for the team member to achieve.

Once you have had the difficult performance conversation with your team member, it is important to establish a plan of action to address the issue. This plan should include specific steps and actions that the team member can take to improve their performance, as well as any support or resources that you can provide.

In order to hold the team member accountable for addressing the performance issue, it is important to agree on next steps and a timeline for follow-up. This can include regular check-ins with the team member, setting specific performance goals, or arranging for additional training or support as needed.

Regular follow-up is critical to the success of the plan of action and to the overall performance improvement of the team member. By tracking progress and following up on the agreed-upon next steps, you can ensure that the team member is on track to meeting their performance goals and that the performance issue is being effectively addressed.

It is important to approach performance discussions with a focus on collaboration, understanding, and finding solutions. By following these guidelines, you can conduct effective performance conversations that help your team members succeed and contribute to the success of your team as a whole.

As a leader, it is important to prioritize open and honest communication in the workplace, especially when it comes to addressing performance issues with your team members. By preparing for the conversation, conducting it in a safe and objective manner, and establishing a plan of action, you can effectively navigate difficult performance discussions and improve your team's overall performance.

Recap of the key steps:


  1. Preparation: Gathering information and data, setting clear expectations, and identifying goals for the conversation.
  2. Conducting the conversation: Creating a safe environment, communicating the performance issue objectively, actively listening and seeking understanding, and collaborating with the team member to find solutions.
  3. Moving Forward: Establishing a plan of action, agreeing on next steps and accountability, and regularly following up to track progress.


It is important to cultivate a workplace culture where open and honest communication is encouraged, and performance conversations are seen as opportunities for growth and improvement. By doing so, you can create a supportive environment where your team members feel valued and can reach their full potential.

Addressing performance issues early and effectively is essential for team success and growth. By doing so, you can identify areas of improvement and help your team members develop their skills, leading to a more productive and motivated team.


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