How a COO should handle poor people performance

As a Chief Operating Officer, you have to keep an eye on every operating system and department in the business. That being said, one of the hardest parts of your role is dealing with the performance of the people in your business. You must tackle people performance carefully to ensure you don’t ruffle feathers, but instead, help them to understand exactly what it is you expect of them.

As second in command, you should be just as responsible as the CEO for resolving conflict, sometimes the issues will be with the CEO, therefore, it will be up to you to step in and sort the problem. The phrases below will help you to effectively resolve conflict and ensure that you communicate with the person involved in the best way possible.

#1 “The problem is”

To start the conversation you need to clearly define exactly what you think the problem is, this ensures that you are both very clear on what it is you are addressing. If you don’t take this step the employee could think you are talking about a completely different issue which means the issue will never get solved. Alternatively, if the issue happens again they could just say that they weren’t aware of what you were talking about as a ‘get out clause’.

#2 “When you do this certain thing”

To prevent anyone’s feelings getting hurt or it getting too personal you need to define the actions they have been taking that you are not happy with. It is important to remember to not criticise the person only criticise their actions. Rather than analyse and evaluate the situation you should describe the situation you have seen.

#3 “It is bad because”

Plainly spell out exactly why the actions they are taking are causing trouble for the business, and exactly what the consequences are when they carry out a certain behaviour. Say for example they never file their audits away properly, you wouldn’t say “It is so annoying and lazy of you and makes it hard to find anything.” Instead, you should say “It is bad because it means we always struggle for time when we do our weekly assessments of all the audits, this is because we can never find the correct files that we are looking for. It puts pressure on your other colleagues and makes work that bit more difficult.”

#4 “It makes me feel”

Sometimes the problem is that people are unaware of how their actions are making other people feel. They don’t think they are affecting anyone else which is why they don’t think there is a problem. If you speak from the heart you have a better chance of getting the employee to change their behaviours for the future e.g. “It makes me feel frustrated and stressed.”

#5 “I need you to”

Be clear on exactly what you need them to do in the future to stop there from being a problem. This means there is no room for ambiguity you are telling them exactly what you want, what your expectations are and how you think they should do it.

#6 “What are their thoughts and feelings about it?”

It is essential to ask the other person exactly what they are thinking about the issue. It could be that they were doing something a certain way because of an issue they are having of their own. Allow them to speak for as long as they need so you can hear their side of the story.


Other posts that may be of interest to you:

How to effectively measure non-desk employee’s performance 

How to get your employees to tell you the truth

How to improve customer service through a meaningful workplace culture

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 3rd January 2019