Performance Management – Employee Resilience

Performance Management – Employee Resilience

Most of us dread the idea of being called into our bosses office to be told that we are not “performing” in our current role and that we are going to be “performance managed”.

For anyone who has had this experience, what were your initial thoughts? Typically things like “this cannot be happening to me”, “this is unfair!”, “what excuses can I find?”, “how will I pay the mortgage?” and “what will I tell my friends/family/partner?” might flash through your mind.

In my experience working as a coach and consultant I have seen a number of people go through this transition with varying levels of stress, discomfort and significantly different outcomes. The main differentiator in each case has been the attitude with which the employee has approached the situation and, ultimately, how resilient they have been in addressing the underlying challenge.

It is normal, when faced with a significant loss of something important such as our self esteem attached to a particular role or job, that we transition or cycle through the “five stages of grief” (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance) as identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

The critical factor in the resilience of employees in this situation lies in the rapid acceptance of the situation in a constructive manner.

In this context acceptance does not mean a fatalistic resignation to the loss of their position, rather it is an acceptance that they need to learn from this experience and use it to further develop themselves and their career. Whilst it may initially appear counter-intuitive, the “performance management” conversation can in fact be a pivotal catalyst to assist some people in overcoming their own inertia and stepping up.

So, if you find yourself in this position, or if you are called upon to support someone who is, then ask the following key questions:

1. What is this telling me about myself that I need to hear?

2. Is this job really something I am inspired by and passionate about doing?

3. What would I actually prefer to be doing?

4. How can I turn this situation into a positive outcome?

Remember, Albert Einstein was expelled from school, Thomas Edison was fired from jobs twice (not to mention he tried 1,000 times before he finally invented the light bulb), and a young newspaper reporter was once fired by his editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas” and went on to become quite successful, his name was Walt Disney!