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Performance Management - By Assuming Nothing

Unhappy as Jenny undoubtedly was, she held on very tightly to her job. After all, she had worked her way up over the years to the supervisory role she was in - and she wasn't going to let go. Yet it was clear that she was unhappy, under pressure and unsure of what she could do to make things better. For her business and more so, for herself. For me, she was letting me down in a number of ways and my inability to resolve her performance had, for a while, been my Achilles heel in the view of my boss too.

To start the process of resolving this, we had spoken formally, several times, over previous months until she finally came to see me, as we reviewed her unsatisfactory performance yet again. It was just after Christmas and she hadn't been able to deliver what our retail business desperately needed, at that vital time.

During the discussion, we reached a point where I had to tell her that she hadn't been performing adequately and I had several pieces of evidence to share with her. I asked her how best we could find a way to resolve this, which would suit her and give her a dignified way to step down. Otherwise, we would have to go through a period of maintained pressure and ongoing stress for her. Jenny confided in me that she had decided the time had come to step down herself, as her brother had recently had a heart attack through the challenges he had experienced in his workplace.

Jenny took the brave decision to step down and I encouraged her to write the notice-board announcement. We agreed a reducing salary package over a period of time which would soften the blow and she took on a lesser role, which she loved and brought great value to.

Jenny told me later that the way we had been able to resolve the matter had 'saved her life'. I thanked her for her attitude throughout the period and knew, inside, that dealing with the Jenny 'issue', had been a big learning for me and my own career.

Sometimes assumptions lead us to think that what we need to do, which may seem really painful, are inherently 'bad' for all. Yet in truth, a difficult situation is not just about ourselves - sometimes, embracing the issue can truly help others as well.

Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, to editors. This article may be edited for use in your publication or newsletter as long as a live link to the website is included)

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