My SVP thinks we should let go of my direct report.

One of my clients came into our coaching conversation with this situation.

She was torn because she knew her direct report wasn’t performing well but letting the person go (just yet) didn’t align her her leadership philosophies.

As we explored further, two insights emerged for her

1) She (as a manager) hadn’t done a great job at setting clear expectations on what was needed from her direct report. She needed to be more clear.

2) She wasn’t sure what the real blocker was. Was it a lack of skills, motivation, or misaligned priorities? She committed to having more honest conversations simply to “seek to understand.” This would give her more clarity on what action she needs to take as a manager.

While this is one specific client story I find this pattern emerges often. A manager is frustrated with a direct report’s performance and when we unpack there is a lot that is within the manager’s control that needs change.

When I find managers willing to reflect, take responsibility, and choose to lead with humanity first, I feel hopeful about their people and the cultures they are creating.

And here’s the other thing being a people-first manager doesn’t mean you don’t make hard decisions of letting people go. Sometimes that’s the most compassionate action for all parties. However, knowing that there was integrity and care from a manager can lead to better outcomes for everyone.

So to recap, here’s my golden rule when performance isn’t meeting the bar.

– Ask yourself if you’ve set clear expectations.

– Then ask yourself if you know what the gaps and challenges are. If you know specifically address the issue & if not seek to understand before making changes.

Just as I am reminding you all in a professional context, those of you leading children at home will often find parallels. I often check myself on these two rules at home when behaviors are not what I want.

And oftentimes, I realize I have work to do!

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