Years ago a very successful business mentor of mine gave me a vital tip about a necessary meeting all leaders should consider. Unfortunately, since I received this advice, I have had to use it several times through. It’s never easy.
You don’t ever want to have this meeting. Trust me. You certainly don’t want to have it very often.
But having this meeting could avoid you having other even harder meetings than this one. And it could turn out to be a blessing for everyone.
It’s called “The Meeting Before the Last Meeting”.
It’s a meeting you have when –
- Someone is not performing well on the team.
- You’ve warned them numerous times. (Make sure you’ve done this)
- They have exhausted their chances with you or with the team.
- You’re at the point where you believe it would be better for them to leave the organization than to stay.
Before you release them (which is one of the hardest things a leader has to do)…
Have one more meeting.
The Meeting Before the Last Meeting
It’s a meeting where you give grace, a final chance, and clear guidance as far as what needs to improve – including a date by which you expect to see results.
Of course, as a good practice, you should document everything. Have a witness with you. Answer any questions the person might have about what you are expecting.
But here’s the whole reason you’re having the meeting. You make it very clear this is the meeting before the last meeting.
The meeting after this meeting will not be fun for anyone.
A follow up meeting, if things don’t improve will actually be the last meeting – the very last one. The working relationship would be terminated at this point.
According to my friend, the meeting before the last meeting usually produces one of two results rather quickly.
- A tremendous turnaround. And you’ve secured a valuable team member.
- Or a definite confirmation the last meeting is the right decision.
I have had tremendous success, with both results, implementing this meeting into my leadership.
A couple things should be noted. First, you don’t always need the meeting before the last meeting. There are times it is very clear what needs to be done. The person isn’t a good fit, they have lost all energy for the mission, or they have gone so far they can’t recover in their current position. The meeting before the last meeting is for those people you believe have capability within the organization if they would pull themselves together and perform to their full potential. (And in my experience, for those who have potential, they receive it as a tremendous act of grace.)
Second, you have to have the fortitude to follow through if there isn’t improvement in performance. For this to be effective there can only one meeting before the last meeting. This is the hard part of leading.
No leader enjoys replacing people. With the right person, and handled carefully, this can actually be a very affirming meeting which produces tremendous results.