Thank you for your thoughtful response! I appreciate you taking the time to share thoughts as well as the list of questions--I'll definitely take a look and pass them along to others.
I've been thinking about your comment--about not leading with "You aren't meeting expectations"--and I think context of the relationship between the participants is relevant. Certainly, you should strive to understand the whole person and what might be affecting them and their performance, but I think it is important to use direct (and sometimes uncomfortable) language.
When job expectations aren't being met, improvement is needed. The goal is to make it clear so that poor performance doesn't continue to the point of needing a formal PIP. I feel like that's been one of my biggest missteps in the past--being unclear about expectations and having it escalate to a PIP. I believe the openness and honesty can turn it around, but this approach can only work with trust & caring.
So, I agree that you probably shouldn't *lead* with those exact words, and you absolutely need to invest in understanding the whole person, but I think it's important to use that level of directness and clarity when having the conversation.