Managing poor performance is one of the most difficult things to do in a work environment.
While it takes courage to have a conversation with the employee to bring things back on track, a few of them may understand it and some may take it as a personal criticism.
At times people may take it emotionally or sometimes there may be personal issues that are affecting their performance.
An article in achieveforum.com puts forth a few tips that will help in handling such situation.
The most important thing to do in this circumstance is to stay calm which is easier said that done.
People may get in to defensive mode when something is said of their work.
The first thing to do is to anticipate the possibility and prepare for it. Remember that the person is reacting because of their frustration or embarrassment.
Though you can acknowledge and respect their emotion it does not necessarily mean that you have to agree with their excuse.
Be patient till they calm down and have a rational conversation and listen carefully to what they have to say, react appropriately in real time and clarify or confirm what's being said.
The next step should be putting focus on the future and not the past. Talk about what positives their future holds for them and if possible offer them choices. This will give them a sense of control and greater ownership going forward.