Picture this scenario; you have an employee that is an all-star in terms of delivering and managing deadlines. They are great at achieving results. You are having an annual performance review with the employee, and they are asking and expecting to get a promotion soon. However, though this individual is a top performer, you are reluctant to promote them as their interpersonal skills are lacking. This employee is rude to others and is often trying to micromanage the team. When things do not go their way or someone has an opposing point of view they become angry and uncooperative. No one wants to work with this individual. Because of their low emotional intelligence, you do not believe the employee is ready for a promotion even though they are good at their job.
How do you handle this conversation without creating disengagement?
The answer is coaching. Here is a 4 step process to managing the conversation.
Step 1: Set the stage. Clearly explain that their behavior needs to change and why. If you do not answer the why, the employee will not likely understand or be motivated to change. Think about the example above, the employee wants to get promoted but has poor interpersonal skills. Explain to them how emotional intelligence impacts their success. That success is not only results but also teamwork.
Step 2: Confirm understanding. Ask them to restate what you just said. Ensure that you both are on the same page before proceeding. Actively listen to their responses and fill in any gaps or correct any misunderstandings. Once you are both on the same page, it is easier to hold them accountable for the desired action.
Step 3: Get buy-in. Brainstorm solutions together that can help solve the problem. Encourage them to find solutions that work for them. People are more motivated to take action if it was their idea. Ask open-ended questions to gather information to find the solution that is best for them.
Step 4: Acknowledge the effort. When having difficult conversations, especially with top-performers with bigger egos, it is important to recognize their efforts to avoid disengagement. This does not mean dismissing any missteps they make on their path to change, but it does mean acknowledging that they are trying. Use their progress and mistakes as a foundation to provide feedback. It will help maintain engagement and can further inspire and motivate them to continue to improve.