A poor-performing employee can bring the whole department’s morale down. Not only do they affect their own performance and the quality of results obtained, they also cause you more headaches than is necessary. And, as you have employed them to do a specific job, your productivity will inevitably suffer in the long run.
First, consider the reasons for the poor performance. Is the person lacking skills? Then arrange for coaching and mentoring as soon as possible. Consider training, but only if the training covers the specific skills the person lacks. Is it a motivation problem? Then consider a plan to measure performance over a longer period of time. Reassess the situation at the end of this time to discuss the progress.
Here are some factors relating to poor performance and ways you can deal with them:
* Demotivation: Tackle the problem quickly by assessing the reasons. Base the improvement plan on a schedule of achievement. You may not be able to change the person, but you can provide the conditions for the person to motivate themselves.
* Lack of skills: Determine exactly what the person is lacking. Arrange coaching and mentoring quickly. Maybe get a peer to help develop the skill in the individual.
*Procrastination: Break the job into more manageable tasks. Don’t let the person overestimate how long a task is going to take and provide hands-on help to get the project up and running.
* Absenteeism: Emphasise the negative effects of being away from the tasks that need to be completed. Make sure they feel part of the team effort. Determine the real reasons behind the absenteeism and work on the roots of the problem.
* Habitual lateness: Determine the real reasons and don’t accept excuses. Work on solutions rather than the problems. Try counselling before disciplining.
* Personal problems: Concentrate on performance, not problems. Be empathetic and assess whether it is short or long-term. Consider giving sick-leave or re-assigning responsibilities. Get HR to seek professional help for the person if it gets out of hand or causes concern with clients and colleagues.
Performance problems can come from many sources, and if you allow them to fester, there will always be problems associated with the person. Dealing with the problem early helps the person to see you are concerned about them personally, and will assist in developing a better attitude towards their contribution towards a successful resolution.
Head of Training
Originally published: 16 November, 2012
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