Previously when we met with staff to tell them about something that we wanted them to improve on, we delivered it as a praise sandwich. We told them what they are doing well, what we want them to improve on, and then something good that they were doing.
In today's fast-paced world, communication strategies have changed dramatically. No longer can we concentrate for any length of time. 15 seconds is the longest period that we can hold the attention of others. That's why sporting events are now condensed, advertising is much shorter, even generational periods have reduced - Baby Boomers (30 year time span), Gen-X (20 year time span), Gen-Y (10 year time span).
As managers it is important to know this when meeting with your staff, even more so when holding performance improvement meetings. Your staff member is in a heightened emotional state as they enter the meeting room, wondering what they are going to face. Their brain is alert to the need to fight or to flee, their listening skills enhanced.
If the first thing that they hear from you is something that they are doing well, the brain will relax and will often switch off. When we deliver the message about what you want the person to change, they may not hear it. As you finish off the meeting with something good that they employee is doing, their brain immediately switches on because we all like to be flattered.
So out of the performance meeting what did the employee hear? Something good that they were doing, something in the middle that they can't remember much about, and something good that they are doing. In their mind the staff member believes that they are doing an OK job because you told them so!
When holding performance improvement meetings, get to the point. What are they doing, what is the impact of what they are doing, and how can they improve it. Negative messages can be delivered in a positive way with a little thought.