How does it sound? Annoying? Well isnt that the real truth? You keep on saying this to your team member even when he is at worst of his performance... dont care for what reasons? Well the truth is out of fear of loosing, causing revolt , constraints around resources etc etc you tend to do this... you go back with a feedback to your engineer and tell him "Look mate, you are doing OK, but you have a lot to improve on" I revised this statement in a simpler way and made it "Keep up the bad work!" .
For an under performer anything that is not direct or straight is like saying "Keep up the bad work mate". As Managers it will be your duty to make and build the communication in a way that says "It's enough of beating around the bush, time for you to respond", Again based on the nature and call and time and nth event of the feedback you can lighten up the statement, but in the end you have to help your under performer friend to boost it up.
We all want to make it sound positive, but not flattery... Tom was a project Manager dealing with Max who had been under performing in spite of last few months of support and attempts made by Tom and Team to get the issues with Max's ability sorted... when the options started reducing Tom had to go and open a communication which will help Max understand that the water has just hit the deck... Tom ran through the profile of Max and saw that he as a Formula 1 follower... took an opportunity on a one on one lunch and had this conversation...
This will hopefully enlighten you to make a easy conversation with your under performing member.
Tom "So, I learn that you are a Formula 1 fan"
Max "Yes, I a great fan"
Tom "So how does a normal F-1 race works"
Max "blah blah blah...... and thats how"
Tom "And how does a driver get in?"
Max "Its touch, but you need xx,yy zzzzzz blah blah, and this is how the points and ratings work for the Team and individuals"
Tom "Ahhh.. So the points for running a championship is also relational to individual driver performing?
Tom " And what happens if say Ferrari Team who is leading the championship has a Minus Schumacher"
Max "They fall back"
Tom "So how do you see yourself in this Team?"
Max takes time, thinks over it.. replies back "I think I have to change!!!"
Tom "OK, so lets get our driving gears, define a race path, lets target steps 1 to X until the pole position. Lets work on your car and gears and see how it works for your next race?"
An easy conversation goes well, without defences and grudges. Max realise the point and wants to seek help to do what would be best for the Team. A few races later Max is up to the speed.
But if the same conversation had gone in a way where Tom says "You are racing well, you need to win now" would have maybe not gone well... and Max would have continued with what he had being doing...
So next time you have an under performer in your Team... work out a best story, his likings and hobbies along with a statement that will make it clear for him that the feedback is counting and you dont and you never say "Keep up the bad work!!!!"
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