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Tackling poor performance is a challenge for all managers. Before steps can be taken to resolve the problem, a manager must get the employee to acknowledge that the problem exists. Only then can it be dealt with constructively by identifying causes and asking the employee to come up with effective solutions.

Management must get staff to understand the impact their poor performance has in terms of meeting objectives, otherwise they will not commit to solving the problem. Explain how it has affected the team or the company as a whole. Once the employee has accepted that there is a problem, ensure they understand where they have gone wrong and the impact of allowing the problem to persist.

It is up to management to explore the reasons for the problem and look for ways of resolving it. Ask the employee to analyze the cause, as they may be able to provide a valuable insight into what has gone wrong. Of course, there may be more than one factor contributing to the problem. Perhaps machinery and materials are inappropriate, maybe an insuffienct budget is holding the individual back or it is possible that the organizational processes are contributing to the poor performance.

Promote Self-Help

Avoid discussing problems that do not affect performance and if an employee is reluctant to take action, stress the gains to be made. The best solutions are those that staff discover themselves. Ask employee to come up with ways of resolving issues or avoid problems arising next time. Management should offer their own ideas if necessary.

Discuss the options before making a decision. If employees suggest unrealistic solutions, ask them to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal and any risks attached. This can help the employee work out a more acceptable plan of action. Try to reach agreement on both short and long-term plans that will solve the performance problem immediately and then continually improve performance.

There are different ways to address different performance problems. If an employee is incapable of doing the job, perhaps due to a lack of skill or experience, management should provide the support and training necessary to allow the employee to tackle the job effectively and then set objectives for continuous improvement. If training is not the answer, consider moving the employee to a more suitable role.

Be Sympathetic

When an employee is unable to concentrate due to a personal problem, be sympathetic and, if necessary, allow the team member time off work to address the problem. If motivation is lacking, maybe due to boredom, try to identify training that will re-energize the employee. When a team member is stressed by too great a challenge, management should review the tasks delegated to find out if the employee is being over-stretched.

If a team member feels alienated, find out how the problem has arisen. It may be that the employee feels neglected or perhaps he is rejecting the job and the company having felt frustrated for a long time due to a lack of a challenge.

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