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Managers are paid to manage people – including the underperforming employee. They must confront problems in the Organisation and manage conflict. With Poor Employee Performance, they often get to do all three.
If the performance problem exists – apply a performance improvement plan. Now.
Unfortunately, Poor Employee Performance is sometimes down poorly managed HR practice. The problem is only made worse by something even the most successful Managers or Team Leaders decide they can get away with from time to time, and that’s indecision, or worse, preferring to avoid conflict. Managers are paid to do many things, and one of these is to deal with underperformance.
If you have a properly thought-out and managed Employee Review Process, the issue of Poor Employee Performance is easier to manage. At HR Duo, we believe in the power of Positive Employee Relations, and have built our HR Cloud services entirely around this belief. And it’s served us well. Proper process and the relevant training for Managers means the poorly performing employee and poor performance generally can be dealt with swiftly, professionally, and to the benefit of all parties.
The answers to this question are as varied as you can imagine. However there does tend to be recurring themes:
Not performing the job required
Not reaching the agreed standards
Repeatedly unable to meet targets of whatever nature
Lack of accountability or motivation
Disregard of Company rules in relation to time-keeping, absence, Health and Safety, Company property
Persistent inability to perform in conjunction with colleagues
Poor onboarding process for new Employees
These are just some typical problems, but many behaviours of the Underperforming Employee will relate to particular corporate cultures and processes.
This is fairly straightforward if you can identify the performance issues. Most of the time, either the Employee is wrong for the job, the job is wrong for the Employee, the resources and training available are inadequate – or the Manager is wrong for the Employee (and possibly other Employees). To break it down:
Employee is not skilled or capable enough
Objectives of job are poorly defined
Quality of training and resources supplied
Employee is going through a temporary personal problem
Surrounding HR processes are weak, or poor work environment
Manager is not providing sufficient direction and feedback
Lack of motivation due to change in workplace dynamic
But these are the obvious or most common causes. The fact is there can be any number of reasons, and it’s the Manager’s job to start the conversation, ask the right questions, listen closely, establish the causes and agree the next steps. The Manager’s not simply responsible to the Business, but also to the rest of the team.
Focus on the measurable performance deliverables agreed at the outset of the person's contract.
The Underperforming Employee Review is an essential part of every Management toolkit. It needs to be applied quickly, fairly and must be supported by facts. Managing the Underperforming Employee needs to be done as soon as the problem is identified, and needs to be seen to be addressed by all: other members of the Team may be carrying the person involved and they will welcome intervention. Ironically, you may find the act of managing one employee – professionally and fairly – motivates your employees. They will almost certainly want to see
The most effective way of dealing with Poor Performance is by focusing the conversation on the agreed and measurable Performance Deliverables to which the Employee signed up when he joined the Company. So:
Headline the Performance Deliverables against which the Employee is measured and reviewed
Remind the Employee how his or her job performance affects the overall Organisation
Ask for reasons for performance falling below the required standards
Agree what corrective measures will be taken
Set down the defining metrics for the Performance Improvement Plan
Propose required Company supports as part of the process
Agree a timeline and review process
An Underperforming Employee affects the Company in more ways than are immediately evident, and quite often this means pulling other Employees down as they observe sub-standard performance, or have to compensate in their own work for this lack of performance.
This “Why” conversation is the first step to resolving one of the most difficult and resource sapping exchanges in the workplace. Sometimes it will reveal matters that relates directly to the Employee and what’s going on in their world. But the conversation may also reveal underlying problems in the Organisation, of which an underperforming Employee is only a symptom.
If the Small Business Owner or Manager can point to agreed performance levels and compare these to what has been agreed in the most recent Annual Performance Review.