What to do when an employee is in denial

Employers and employees aren’t always on the same page when it comes to performance reviews. Here’s how to set staff members straight

What to do when an employee is in denial
Performance reviews are an important part of keeping workers on-track and engaged but, occasionally, HR managers will find themselves on an entirely different page to an unknowing employee – here’s how to set things straight.

“In most cases, this perceptual disconnect develops when performance reviews are infrequent or when feedback is ambiguous,” says Tribe HR’s Stephanie Reyes – but there’s plenty you can do about it.

Offer timely feedback

“Catch people doing something right and tell them right away,” says Reyes. Similarly; “When you see behaviour or results that are not acceptable, tell them that too, as soon as you can,” she advises.

When offering on-the-spot feedback, Reyes says HR professionals must remember to praise publicly and correct privately.

“While praise and recognition are powerful motivators for many people, being disciplined or ‘scolded’ in public is humiliating and can prevent your message from being received,” she explains.

Encourage peer feedback

“Sometimes people have to hear things from more than one source to accept it,” says Reyes – and she’s right, recent research shows that employees are more responsive to feedback from fellow workers.
 
Create a learning environment

“Create an environment of continual learning where everyone is expected to upgrade on a regular basis,” advises Reyes. “Make regular personal and professional development part of the culture so it won’t be considered discipline when an employee hears that an area of performance requires improvement,” she adds.

Share specific examples

This can be particularly helpful when it comes to dealing with employees who simply won’t acknowledge their short-comings, says Reyes. Say, for example, the caustic supervisor who shreds everyone’s self-esteem or the perpetually late employee who insists they still do more work than everyone else.

“Document and share specific examples of unacceptable performance or behaviour,” she advises. “The more factual evidence you have the harder it will be for your employee to ignore or rationalise your feedback.”
 
Related stories:
 
What to do with a line manager who won’t listen
 
How to avoid a ‘secret resistance’ during change management
 
Are your employees pretending to be overworked?

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