How to deal with poor employee performance

When should you take action?  There are some simple rules of thumb…. 

1. When it directly affects the person’s productivity

2. When it affects the productivity of other people in the team/department

3. When, no matter how many times you have set up additional training, or peer mentoring, or even counselling (for home problems) performance simply hasn’t improved

4.  When it starts to affect your energy and your performance

5. When the problem starts spreading to other people

6. When it affects company policy and procedure

7. When it simply becomes too offensive or annoying to ignore

At a performance discussion people need to know: 

  • What the good performance/behavioural standards are
  •  Exactly where they are going wrong
  • Exactly what is expected of them to put that right
  • Training if required
  •  They then need regular feedback on how they doing in relation to the improvements (and not just once a year)
  •  That they are valued even despite not being perfect
  •  That they will be supported while trying to improve behaviours/skills

3 Questions to ask yourself before you give feedback:

Q: What is my INTENT in giving the feedback?

Q: What do I hope to GAIN?

Q: Am I sure that WITHOUT feedback, their productivity will continue to suffer?  

5 steps to take when you give feedback:

1. Focus on behaviour, NOT the person.

2. Use “I” statements versus ‘you’ statements.

3. Ask for reasons and explanations.

4. Discuss possible solutions.

5. Agree on a course of action.

Having these conversations is never going to be easy, but as a team leader, owner or manager, this IS a huge part of your job. If you don’t tell your people where they are going wrong, they will assume they are doing things the way you want them done and will continue doing them the same way. Which will drive you insane. Just remember, people are lousy mind readers.  

‘A word of encouragement during failure is worth

more than an hour of praise after success.’  Unknown

Ann Andrews CSP. Author, speaker, profiler

Author: Lessons in leadership: 50 ways to avoid falling into the ‘Trump’ trap

Author: Leaders Behaving Badly: What happens when ordinary people show up, stand up and speak up

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