Performance and productivity are interlinked and interdependent as the former leads to the latter. Organizations pour a large amount of money, time and effort in the process of learning development and training so that it can boost efficiency levels of its employees. In spite of all the efforts, some employees do not show the required growth in their performance appraisals.
It is a fact that incompetency is not always the only reason for poor performance by an employee. It is the forte of the manager to understand and identify the purposes for so-called poor performance. He is the one who is entrusted to connect all the dots, have one-on-one interactions and come up with a viable plan that will help the employee to gain the necessary focus in the workplace.
How to Manage Poor Performance?
1. Question yourself and diagnose the problem
Is the employee aware of the expectations of the organization, and what does it expect from him? Have they been told about the goals of the company and how should an employee align with it to make it his professional objective. Is the employee aware that he has been performing below par and does he realize that it can have serious repercussions? Does he lack the basic training or he is still green and is unable to cope with the pace of the workplace? Is he finding the job too demanding or is the task difficult for him.
In some cases, it is seen that external factors come into play, and this can also be one of the reasons for under-performance. For instance, the employee might be having relationship bumps, there might be some problems in his married life, someone in his family might be ill, or he might be going through another personal crisis.
These are some essential questions for the manager that he needs to address so that he can understand the problem in a better manner. Determine the cause of poor performance by guessing whether the reason is a low motivation or lack of ability or something personal and then diagnose the problem correctly.
2. Confront the employee
A patient has to swallow the bitter pill if he wants to be treated for any medical problem, and so is the case with the employee in the workplace. Once the problem has been diagnosed, then it is time to confront the employee about it. Do not think about hurting his feelings because if not now, then you will never be able to take the step, and this will ultimately prove the employee’s downfall. The key is in communicating your desire to assist in his welfare because his efficiency is directly linked with the productivity of the company.
Talk to him directly and set clear-cut expectations. Make sure you have a well-documented plan with you and talk to him about the need for implementing it. This is the time to send a clear message and explain your expectations in precise terms so that the employee can understand them better.
The more you delay, the more you are wasting company resources. Moreover, you are also sending a wrong message to the poor performer as well as other employees that such things are acceptable in your organization. It will ultimately set a bad precedent that will harm the whole organization and its workforce.
3. Avoid emotional confrontation
An emotional confrontation is harmful in the workplace hence treat your talk with the employee as part of your professional chore. The trick is in being calm and handling the situation with the employee in a matured and collected manner. Make sure you have all the necessary facts to back yourself if he asks to show you why you think he is underperforming.
Vague information will prove harmful in such a sensitive case hence be specific and with the help of documentation and notes show precisely wherein lies the problem. Have your figures ready so that there is no scope for miscommunication or any misinterpretation. Be professional and practical in your approach once the unfortunate performance issue has come to light.
Highlight the fact that the meeting is about finding a solution to the problems he is facing, and there is nothing personal in it. Make sure that you confirm that the employee understands and is on the same page with you over it.
4. Create performance goals together
One of the best ways to deal with poor performance is by creating performance goals together. Include the poor performers in the planning and decision process and ask how they would like to improve. Try to understand whether the employees want to achieve new skills or enhance the existing ones and make plans accordingly.
Every employee is different; hence do not make a typical program for all the under-performers instead be specific and create individual performance targets. When the employee comes to know that they are being given preferential treatment and personal attention, this will go a long way in boosting their confidence and engagement levels. The desire to improve and wish to learn becomes more critical when a person knows that someone is taking the time out to deal with his issues.
The management and the employee with poor performance must collaborate to set SMART performance goals. Remember, you can see improvement only when the employee himself is motivated to improve, so encourage him to take the next steps. Take the time to have one-on-one discussions regularly to find out about how to improve, what steps to take, and what other help he needs to ensure personal improvement.
5. Focus in feedback
Everyone handles feedback more honestly than simple concern or talks. One of the strategies that a manager can adopt at this point is communicated his thoughts viably via feedbacks. Provide weekly, monthly or more feedbacks if it is necessary. The performance feedback helps to soften the blow because no one likes to hear that they are not able to maintain the set standards in the organization.
The employee knows that feedback is an integral part of work culture and is a genuine way to improve and understand inefficiencies. Putting the onus on feedback keeps the talks on a professional footing. The employee, after seeing it, can identify the areas where his performance was lacking and which needs to be worked upon. Remember the feedback is an essential tool to explain the required standards in the organization.
It is now the manager’s prerogative to have a tough but honest conversation so that the employee can learn from his mistakes and make the necessary improvements.
6. Offer training and mentoring
If the manager thinks that poor performance is because of a lack of ability or proper skills and knowledge, then the best way to deal with this problem is by providing the necessary training to enhance his know-how. Explore the level of their expertise and understand what is expected of them. Are they equipped to handle the latest technology should also be an important consideration?
The management can provide computer-based training, training seminars, simulation exercises, and specialized courses to enhance their level of skill. The training will prove beneficial in their long-time career. Ask the employees whether it is making a difference would they like to learn more and if yes, offer advanced courses so that they can cure poor performances and replace them with proper knowledge and skills.
When employees are unable to meet expectations, it is a smart move to combine the poor performer with a mentor as he can have a positive influence on the employee. Mentoring has proved efficient for a very long time and is considered one of the best ways to enhance performance and boost the motivational levels of a worker.
You have identified the reason for poor performance, offered feedback, training and even open conversation to explain the ways to improve his performance levels. This is the most critical stage in the whole process because if there is no one to take the responsibility of keeping a track on his improvement, the entire thing would eventually fall through.
This step establishes what the goal of the employee is, what is the timeframe within which he has to achieve his objectives, how is he going to measure his achievements and how regularly will he be meeting with you or further evaluation. Remember if there is no one to keep a regular eye, then he will gradually revert to his old habits. Urge the employee to maintain proper documentation of his progress and go through it at regular intervals.
Clear notes and precise instructions will prove a blessing in understanding whether he needs to put more effort or maintain the current standards to achieve the desired success. It is the responsibility of the manager to make sure that the employee is carrying out with his training and other improvement goals diligently. Ensure the deadlines complete the tasks. Regular monitoring will nudge the performer to be diligent in his efforts.
He will appreciate the efforts that are being taken on his behalf and stick to the strict timetable no matter how difficult it is. Remember, when the manager shows interest and that too regularly in the welfare of his employees, they can earn respect and appreciation from such employees who are trying their level best to improve their performances.
8. Show the employees that they are valued
The employees who are poor performers are no doubt trying to properly train and gain the necessary know-how to make a difference, but it is equally essential to offer them the necessary support. It is the responsibility of his supervisor to keep in touch and make sure that they are motivated to take their levels of expertise one step further.
Ensure that the employees are assigned to the right role and make sure that they are comfortable in it. It is essential to interact on a one-on-one basis and let them understand that they are also an integral part of the company, and it will do everything possible to make them a perfect fit. Let the poor performers know about the goals, mission, and vision of the company so that it can motivate them to align with those objectives.
Show the employees that they are valued if you are looking for ways to manage poor performers effectively. When employee engagement increases, it has a direct impact on their morale and satisfaction levels. Remember a better understanding will lead to engagement, and this, in turn, will result in the growth and development of the organization.
9. Reward improvement
The efforts that the poor performers are making should not go in vain hence reward development if you are looking for ways to manage poor performance. Appreciate their efforts, diligence, and commitment towards self-improvement and make them understand that it will lead to a better professional life.
Recognizing congratulating and rewarding are some essential steps to increase employee morale and engagement of both the underperformers and the other employees who see them trying to learn and make a viable difference. Praise their efforts privately as well as at meetings.
Give them the applause and credit for hard work in front of others in the office. Make an example and encourage other employees to go out of their way and offer them help if needed.