As a manager, dealing with staff issues can be quite problematic, particularly when it involves poor performance. Sometimes you may decide to just tolerate the poor performer in your team and focus on the ones who are tackling the work and getting the job done. If the poor performer is not causing too much disruption, where is the problem, right? Wrong.
Choosing to ignore the poor performers by keeping them on the sidelines can actually have an adverse effect on the performance and morale of the rest of the team. Put it this way; if you can recognise the poor performer, your team can too, and that will negatively impact on their motivation to get the job done.
When you consider that 69% of employees report engagement is a problem in their organisation, it’s clear that the problem of poor performance is widespread. From an economic and work culture angle, it makes good sense to deal with the problem as soon as it appears.
What can you do to manage poor performance?
The first thing to do is speak to the individual concerned privately and objectively discuss the specific issues you have with their work performance. Allow them to explain the reasons behind their current level of performance. Their problems could be work related or more personal in nature. We can’t easily separate ourselves from issues at home or in other parts of our lives, and these can end up affecting our overall work performance. It is also possible that your team member may just be disinterested in the role altogether and is looking for a new challenge to sink their teeth into.
Without knowing what the issue is, you have no way of coming up with a solution or developing a strategy to address the problem head on. And the longer you ignore it, the more problematic it could be for the rest of the team.
Coming up with a solution
If the problem is work related, is there something you can do to solve it? Are there individual issues you can assist with? Do they know exactly what they are supposed to be doing? A UK survey found that only 44 per cent of the 2,226 employees polled were set clear objectives.
Do they have adequate access to the necessary information and resources, they need? Do they need more training? Perhaps it’s even time to consider making a change or improvements to the job, especially if the person has been in the role for a long time.
If it is more personal in nature, you may want to consider providing some limited time off to deal with the issue. Make sure the team member knows what forms of support are available within your organisation, too. You may also be able to provide them access to work-funded counsellors who could assist.
If they have lost interest in their current position maybe you can provide them with some training to help them move into a more demanding role? Or perhaps you can offer them added responsibilities to make their current role more interesting?
Have you actually given them feedback before? Do they know they are under-performing? Take a look at these figures from LinkedIn:
- 80% of Gen Y said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews.
- 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.
- 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion, “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”
Unless an employee’s performance is acknowledged along the way, it’s unreasonable to expect them to achieve every goal you set.
What does Good Performance Look Like?
Make sure your team member understands exactly what is expected of them by setting minimum standards that need to be achieved for them to satisfy their basic job responsibilities. What work is due, by when and what are the measures the work will be assessed against? It’s important that you are very clear on the expectations so there can be no point of dispute when you come to review the performance later on.
When no solution can be reached
Don’t be disheartened if you find that there is nothing you can do personally to solve the issue. The individual may have lost interest a long time ago along with the desire to change. Again, if this is the case, the situation cannot be ignored. We all have set performance standards we must meet.
As a manager, you will need to go down the performance management path. The beauty of the performance management conversation is that not only do you clarify expectations; you cause the individual to address whatever is bothering them. It’s easy to skate on through the work day when there are no repercussions, so there’s no need to deal with the underlying problem. When you have a reason to think about it, you are actually offering them a growth opportunity that may lift them out of their poor performance, if they choose to embrace it.
It is helpful to continue to assist them wherever you can to help promote some level of change. However, your team member needs to understand that they have a significant responsibility to improve their personal performance.
The final outcome
A conversation like this will typically bring the situation to a head, and then one of two things will usually happen.
- The individual will progressively improve and noticeably pick up their performance, or
- they will look to move to another department within your organisation or resign from the company altogether.
While the idea of losing a team member may sound a bit harsh, it is better than allowing a substandard performer to continue operating within your team. Allowing consistently poor performance to go unchecked will eventually damage the morale of your team, as well as your team’s ability to meet it’s targets.
If you have a poor performer within your team, you need to tackle the issue immediately, as the results will be better for your team and the individual.
Director, Your HR on Tap
Your HR on Tap is a pay as you go HR advice and support service – get support as you need it, when you need it, how you need it!