How To Help Poor Performers

If you do not deal with the poor performer in your midst you are just storing up a whole hep of problems; they suck the life out of the organisation and make their manager’s life a living hell. What makes this worse is that the manager then begins to look bad, hesitant and out of touch.

So, what’s to do?

For those who are failing in their work the following Plan needs to be applied – and quick!

  1. Be clear that it actually IS poor performance; is this part of a pattern of poor performance or just a couple of blips. The only real way to know is to have been monitoring performance for some time so that tends can emerge and that you are certain about the way forward. Make sure that their poor outputs cannot be blamed on anyone else or on external factors beyond their control. Have they failed to respond to criticism/additional support? What are their relationships with other members of staff like? Get a full-view picture of the real situation.
  2. Tackle it head-on; confront poor performance if you have genuinely given the employee every chance to succeed. This is difficult and managers will always opt for the softer, more caring approach because it is easier to do so! Do not put off the inevitable – meet this head-on!
  3. Say what you NEED to say; present a detailed picture of their poor performance and outline specific examples of non-delivery. This needs to be accompanied by a fair assessment of the impact of this with auditable and accurate details of what went wrong and its full impact. Make it clear that other team members are delivering on their targets and tasks in a similar environment and a similar set of tasks to complete.
  4. Focus on the heart of the problem; pinpoint the root cause of the issue because looking at the symptoms of the problem will only prolong the agony and deliver short-term improvements. Be assertive and do not be swayed by details of the employee’s problems, family and relationships that might be impacting upon performance.
  5. Agree an improvement plan; work out how best to challenge the root of the poor performance problem. Is this a training issue? Does it mean improving their working routines to generate better outcomes? Set out new ground rules with short terms goals, make notes and refer to them in subsequent meetings. Above all else make sure that the employee is fully aware of what is expected of them – be clear on this and use evaluative words and phrases to get the message across.
  6. Get the employee to sum up; get them to summarise the problem and what has been established in the Action Plan. Get this confirmed in an email – this then cements the way forward and can also be used as evidence that you have considered what can be done to improve the situation. This is critical if things go wrong in the future and shows buy-in from the employee.

Good Luck!

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