You’re an experienced manager with ten direct reports. Two are talented stars, four are doing well enough, and three could use a nudge in the right direction but are generally on track. Unfortunately, the last one on your list is not doing quite so well. He’s young and ambitious, and he cares about the job, but he’s struggling. And he isn’t just struggling across one or two of your performance metrics, but all of them.

You’ve lost more sleep over this employee and spent more hours editing his review than you have with any of the others. You’ve gone over all the facts in your mind a thousand times. You want to make sure you’re being fair. And you want to do what’s best for the company, the employee, and the members of his team. So how can you turn a host of mistakes and disasters into a host of positives? And how can you press the reset button on this troubled employer-employee relationship?

A Bad Review: The Aftermath

1. Know exactly where you want to be by the time the review session ends. Set clear goals for yourself. If your goal is to have the employee recognize the gravity of the situation and understand his proximity to termination, act accordingly. But if your goal is to find any possible way to keep him on board and retain the valuable skills for which he was hired, let that guide your process.

2. Know what you’ll do the day, week, and month after the review ends, and make sure the employee also has a clear action plan. How frequently will you check in on his progress? What clear, measurable standards will he be held to during the probationary period?

3. Do you want him to start seeking work elsewhere, or would you rather prevent this from happening? You can’t control his long term plans, but if you know for certain which you would prefer, this will inform your approach to the review.

4. Document, record, measure, and clarify every step of the process. These records are vital for performance tracking and legal compliance. Don’t step into such subjective territory alone. Having a great software platform at your side can help both of you navigate the process and can help sort out any future disputes or miscommunications that began in the heat of an emotionally charged meeting.

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