In leadership, there are times when silence iscommendable and other times when silence is condemnable.

Not speaking up when a team member has performance issues or attitude issues is not loving but hurtful to the person, the team and the organization.

Here is Dan Rockwell dealing with the subject of “When silence is painful, not golden!”

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


Failure to bring up disappointing performance is cruel, not compassionate.

Apart from intervention, negative trajectory accelerates.

When silence is painful, not golden:

Silence when performance disappoints prolongs pain, increases stress, and affirms mediocrity. Eventually, pain increases to the point that it overcomes reluctance to address uncomfortable issues. Wouldn’t it be better to deal with poor performance when disappointment and pain are low?

Poor performance continues until compassion intervenes. 

Persistent poor performers:

  1. Disrespect their own talent and potential.
  2. Frustrate good performers.
  3. Increase stress for management.

Work with disappointing performance when:

  1. There’s a history of strong performance.
  2. Time and resources for improvement are available.
  3. Corrective feedback is welcomed with humility.
  4. Passion to improve is obvious.
  5. Performance trends upward.
  6. Reassignment provides opportunity to leverage strengths and compensate for weaknesses.

Poor performance never magically transforms into high performance.

The best thing:

Bring up poor performance when pain is low and negative patterns haven’t congealed.

  1. “I notice …”
  2. What do you see?
  3. How might you be selling yourself short?
  4. If things continue as they are, where will you be next month?
  5. What makes you believe things will be different next week?

Let aspiration, not frustration, be the motivation to address poor performance.

7 tips:

  1. Go with your heart. When things don’t seem right, speak up.
  2. Work toward positive outcomes. ‘Building strong connections’ is better than ‘not irritating colleagues’.
  3. Don’t allow one thing to be everything.
  4. Dig in when it feels easier to turn away.
  5. Talk things over with a trusted mentor/coach, before bringing them up.
  6. Add energy to behaviors that work.
  7. Stop behaviors that don’t work. Success may be as simple as stopping something that doesn’t work while continuing what does.

More of the same isn’t acceptable when people perform below their potential. Compassion speaks up. Silence prolongs pain.

What are your suggestions when performance disappoints?