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Performance,  Transformed

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Tips for Giving Feedback on Poor Performance

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Author: Sarah A Scala, M. Ed & OD, ACC
Reading Time: 2 Minutes

In 2018, Sarah Scala Consulting partnered with MindEdge Learning as a subject matter expert on Team Creativity, Innovation, and Employee Performance. I was interviewed to produce video content about specific topics that were incorporated into their online learning courses for MindEdge’s clients. This is part of a blog series about this project.  

For the course on Difficult Conversations at Work, I was given scenarios about workplace situations that managers, leaders, and human resources professionals would need to resolve. In this blog, I share best practices for how to handle a situation where employee performance has declined.

When providing feedback on poor performance, schedule a meeting with the employee that's private and preferably in person. Inform the employee that you're aware of their declining performance. Give examples and focus on their individual behaviors versus them as a person. Listen to understand any underlying reasons that may affect their behavior, and discuss expectations of the role.

If appropriate, complete a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) with a timeline for improvement, and schedule follow-up meetings. Although you had the meeting and completed the paperwork on a PIP, it doesn't mean your work is over as a leader. It is important to monitor progress, have regularly scheduled meetings, and move forward to disciplinary action, if appropriate. It's also critical to have documentation of what's happening, in case the employee needs to be exited from the company.

When giving feedback on poor performance, depending on the severity, many employees appreciate your willingness to have a conversation about what is going on, and to be an effective listener. It’s also important to talk about how you might be able to remove some barriers that may be getting in the way of improved performance. Not all poor performance conversations need to lead to termination. Often, conversations can result in a strong improvement in performance by the employee, and a feeling that they have support of their leader, which should build engagement and retention.

Check out my short video on Managing Poor Performance Conversations

What tips can you share about feedback on poor performance? Comments welcome.

Questions? Let’s connect. I would love to hear your success stories. Please send them to: or visit

Meet the Author: Sarah Scala

A dynamic consultant, coach, and educator, Sarah Scala provides organization and leadership development, executive coaching, succession planning, change management, public speaking facilitation, and team development solutions. Her work transforms performance of executives, leaders, and teams, helping them reach their highest potential. She supports US-based and global clients across cultures, generations, geographies, and diverse industries.

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