Reframing an employee: how to go about it?


Effective management is an essential skill in any organization, and it starts with understanding the basics. In France, a survey by Cegos in 2018 revealed that 50% of managers did not aspire to their position, yet good management practices can bring significant savings to a company, emphasizing the need for management training.

This article will delve into the topic of “Reframing an employee,” which translates to addressing and correcting a team member’s performance or behavior. We will explore the reasons, timing, and steps to handle this delicate process constructively, ensuring a positive impact on the individual and the team dynamics as a whole.

Understanding the Need for “Reframing an employee”

“Reframing an employee” can be understood as a performance management or corrective action conversation. It becomes necessary when a team member’s behavior or performance deviates from internal regulations, professional expectations, or the company’s values and mission. The primary goal of this process is to re-establish the framework and expectations, correct unsatisfactory behavior, and prevent its recurrence. It is a valuable tool for managers to resolve conflicts, improve work relationships, and ultimately, enhance team performance.

Reasons for Intervention:

There are several common reasons why a manager may need to “Reframing an employee”:

  • Missed deadlines or frequent tardiness: When a team member consistently fails to meet deadlines or arrives late, it can disrupt the entire team’s dynamics and delay projects.
  • Poor work quality: If the quality of a team member’s work is consistently below expectations, it can impact the overall quality of the team’s output and the company’s reputation.
  • Inappropriate behavior: This includes behavior that is disrespectful, aggressive, or harassing towards colleagues or clients. Such behavior can create a toxic work environment and legal issues for the company.
  • Misunderstanding instructions: When a team member fails to understand or follow instructions, it can lead to strategic errors in projects and a deviation from the expected outcomes.
  • Failure to meet client expectations: In a client-facing role, if a team member consistently underperforms during presentations or meetings, it can result in lost business and damaged client relationships.
  • Remote work policy violations: With the rise of remote work, some team members may struggle to adapt to the policies, leading to misuse of work tools, unexcused absences, or failure to follow work hours.

Choosing the Right Time to Intervene:

Timing is crucial when it comes to “Reframing an employee.” On one hand, managers should not delay addressing significant issues, as this can send a message of acceptance or tolerance. On the other hand, reacting immediately when emotions are high may not be productive. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Serious misconduct, such as harassment or aggressive behavior, requires immediate action. It is the manager’s obligation to intervene without delay to protect the team and the company’s reputation.
  • For other issues, take the time to gather information and observe. Choose an appropriate time to speak with the team member, preferably when emotions have settled, and you have a clear understanding of the situation.
  • Avoid waiting too long, as this may send a signal that you are tolerating the behavior or performance issues. Strike a balance between acting promptly and being thoughtful in your approach.

The 9-Step Guide to Constructively “Reframing an employee”

Alcyone Guillevic, in her article for Les Echos Solutions, outlines a comprehensive 9-step process for managers to effectively “Reframing an employee.” Let’s explore each step in detail:

  1. Identify and Analyze the Problem: Begin by clearly understanding the issue at hand. Is it related to performance, behavior, or both? Identify the specific incidents or patterns that led to the need for intervention.
  2. Take a Step Back: Avoid reacting emotionally or impulsively. Take some time to observe and gather facts. Ensure that your emotions do not cloud your judgment and that you have all the necessary information before proceeding.
  3. Organize a Private Meeting: Choose an appropriate setting for the discussion. For sensitive issues, a formal meeting room may be best to ensure privacy. For performance-related topics, consider a more casual setting, such as a coffee chat or a walk, to create a less intimidating atmosphere.
  4. State the Facts Kindly and Clearly: Present the facts of the situation and your observations calmly and objectively. Ensure that the team member understands the issue and the impact it has had. Avoid personal attacks or generalizations, and focus on specific incidents.
  5. Encourage Open Dialogue: Ask open-ended questions to encourage the team member to share their perspective. Why did they act in a certain way? What were their motivations or challenges? Listen actively and seek to understand their point of view.
  6. Discuss Expected Behavior and Performance: Clearly outline the improvements needed and set achievable goals. Explain the consequences of their actions (or inactions) on the team, the company, and their own career. Reassure them of their value to the team and highlight strengths to boost motivation.
  7. Collaborate on Solutions: Work together to find solutions and create an action plan. Ask for their input and encourage commitment to the plan. Ensure that they understand their role in implementing the solutions and that they have the necessary resources.
  8. Schedule Follow-up Meetings: Regularly check in with the team member to review progress, provide further support, and ensure that the agreed-upon actions are being implemented. This step is crucial for accountability and showing your ongoing support.
  9. Maintain a Supportive Environment: Throughout the process, maintain a respectful and benevolent approach. Foster a climate of trust and encourage open communication. This will help the team member feel supported and motivated to improve.

Additional Considerations:

  • The Power of Open-Ended Questions: When discussing performance or behavior issues, avoid yes or no questions, which can sound judgmental. Instead, use open-ended questions (“Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where”) to encourage honest explanations and self-reflection.
  • The Role of Leadership: Clear communication of the company’s vision, strategy, and values by the leadership team makes it easier for managers to discuss a team member’s impact. When employees understand how their actions align with the company’s goals, they are more likely to be engaged and accountable.


Effectively “Reframing an employee” is a delicate balance between addressing performance issues and maintaining a positive, motivated team. It requires managers to be thoughtful, empathetic, and clear in their approach. By following the 9-step process outlined above, managers can handle these conversations constructively, creating a supportive environment for employees to thrive. Remember, ongoing management training and peer exchanges are essential to developing these skills and avoiding managerial caricatures that can hinder team dynamics.


Question: What if the team member becomes defensive or refuses to acknowledge the issue?
Answer: It’s important to maintain a calm and respectful approach. Acknowledge their perspective and emotions, and then gently guide the conversation back to the facts and specific incidents. Collaborate on finding solutions, ensuring they feel involved and understood.

Question: How can I ensure the team member feels supported rather than attacked during the conversation?
Answer: Create a safe and private space for the discussion. Begin the conversation by emphasizing your support and the team member’s value to the team. Focus on specific behaviors or incidents rather than personal attacks, and provide concrete examples. Listen actively and work together to find solutions, showing that you are invested in their improvement.

Question: What if the issue is related to a team member’s behavior towards clients?
Answer: In such cases, it is crucial to address the issue promptly to maintain client relationships and the company’s reputation. Follow the steps outlined above, focusing on the impact of their behavior on clients and the business. Collaborate on finding solutions that improve their client interaction skills and ensure they understand the consequences of their actions.

Question: How can I prepare for a “Reframing an employee” conversation?
Answer: Preparation is key. Write down the specific incidents or behaviors that need to be addressed, along with the impact they have had. Outline the key points you want to cover during the conversation, and consider potential solutions. Role-playing with a peer can also help you practice your approach and body language.

Question: What if the team member’s performance does not improve despite my efforts?
Answer: It is important to set clear expectations and goals during the “Reframing” conversation and provide ongoing support. If their performance still does not improve, you may need to involve HR and consider performance improvement plans or other disciplinary actions outlined in your company’s policies.



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