Dealing With Poor Performance

Dealing With Poor Performance

What makes an employee a poor performer?

They must not care or don’t have what it takes to get the job done!

This may be the case but most of the time there is far more to it.

People managers will deal with this situation many times in their career.

“Do I invest in this person to get them where they need to be or do I cut bait now and move on?”

Re-hiring is costly and underestimated by many companies.

Most companies don’t put a cost associated to the interview process, lost productivity, culture impact and increased workloads.

This is not a reason not to re-hire.

It just needs to be in the mix when decisions are being made.

We have all made a few bad hires but for the most part we should trust the hiring process if it thorough, proven and detailed.

If you do trust that process then poor performance is probably due to other reasons.

Before a people manager makes any decisions they need to ask themselves some questions:

  1. Did I set up the employee for success with the proper training and support?
  2. Has my communication on expectations been clear and understood?
  3. Is the issue capability or compatibility?
  4. Is this a short-term issue or has a long-term pattern developed?
  5. Have I had one to one’s that detailed the performance issues?
  6. Have I clearly outlined what they need to do to improve performance in the one to one’s?
  7. Have I seen improvements after those one to one’s?
  8. Could something outside of work be the cause?
  9. Could I be the issue?

The exercise is to ensure that you and the company have done what they need to properly assess the situation and that you have set the employee up for success from the beginning.

The root cause to poor performance may be more than what it appears!

In some cases it is very obvious that the employee is not a fit and you need to move on.

However, I have a tendency to lean towards investing in people to get them where they need to be.

This investment needs to be well planned with goals, timelines and measurement tools.

The manager also needs to understand that this added investment is taking resources from other priorities and therefore an immediate return on that investment is crucial.

Employees should have a very clear picture of how they are performing.

This is done with formal and informal feedback.

Effective one to one’s and performance reviews are strong formal feedback opportunities.

Informal feedback can happen on a daily basis by re-enforcing strong performance and identifying areas for improvement.

If an employee does not know there are concerns with their performance then their manager is not doing their job.

An employee must be aware that they need to step up their game or there will be consequences.

The process to improve poor performance depends on the degree of change that is required.

If the issues are major then a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is required.

A PIP has very specific goal setting mechanisms and timeframes in place with a formal document that is reviewed with their manager on a frequent basis.

Traditionally PIP’s are 1-4 months in time.

A less formal approach to address smaller issues is the one to one process.

This allows you to set short term goals and monitor the progress through monthly meetings.

In either process, it is incumbent upon the manager to support the employee as much as possible.

This is not a one-way street.

If the employee fails essentially the manager fails too!

If you don’t want to deal with poor performance then do it right from the beginning.

Train your employees properly.

Make monthly one to one’s part of the culture.

Why would you want to address 12 issues during a year end review when you could address and correct each one every month?


Photo courtesy of Peter Alfred Hess


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