Why managers keep eyes shut tightly (Guest commentary)

Confronting performance issues makes managers feel like a 'bad' person
By Sharon Bar-David
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/02/2009

By the time George missed the big deadline, his manager Juliana had already gone through several months of pretending there was no problem. Her long-standing, positive relationship with George prevented her from addressing the decline in the quality of his work, his lateness and withdrawal. Now, faced with a problem to which she couldn’t turn a blind eye, Juliana cringed at the idea of having to take action.

Many managers fall into the “procrastination trap” and avoid dealing with performance problems. Unfortunately, HR professionals who support them are often slow to diagnose the problem and provide timely assistance.

A manager falls into the procrastination trap for a variety of reasons: He knows the employee is struggling with difficult personal circumstances; he has a personal relationship with the employee; he fears he’ll compromise the employee’s future; he worries about damaging the relationship with the employee; or he is paralyzed by the fear of handling the conversation in an unskilled way