The primary goal of an organisational leader should be to support and foster creativity and productivity in employees. Part of this is ensuring that employees are able to complete their job tasks accurately and using appropriate methods. When performance reviews reveal that an employee is underperforming, leaders should consider the potential benefits of providing retraining for job tasks.
Approaching employees about retraining should be handled from an employee-oriented perspective. The original performance review should involve active employee participation and discussion of the options available for improving performance. When employees actively participate in creating their action plan, they are more likely to remain engaged in the retraining program and dedicated to improvement.
To save costs on retraining, employee performance should be evaluated for each job task. Ideally, a training manager and a senior employee with good performance ratings should work with the employees’ direct supervisor to evaluate task performance. There is usually a pretty big difference between what the trainer, the supervising manager, and the experienced employee will consider good performance, and they may have drastically different approaches to completing tasks. Having all perspectives present from the beginning of retraining can allow everyone to agree on how the employee should proceed.
For the majority of employees, there will only be a few key areas of performance that will need to be addressed. If it appears that the employee has a generally good grasp of job tasks, but is still missing key steps or making small errors, they may have just been overwhelmed by the initial training program. In these cases, the senior employee should be able to provide supervision and guidance for the employee, and the training manager should consider revaluating the new hire programs.
If the employee seems to be putting in a significant amount of effort and yet still struggles to complete job tasks adequately, they may not possess the appropriate aptitudes or skills needed for certain aspects of the position. The employee may improve if they are provided with additional resources or support, such as a step by step guide for detailed tasks to prevent missed steps and ‘cheat sheets’ with screen capture images for complex computer programs.
If the retraining process leads to improved performance in some areas but not in others, leaders may want to consider rearranging task assignments. Team leaders may be able to identify knowledge, skills, and abilities that allow the employee to perform well on specific tasks, and reassign work tasks so that they are able to focus on tasks they are able to complete successfully. Even if the assignment is only temporary, setting the employee up for success can increase their self-confidence without compromising team productivity.
Unfortunately, if the employee is unable to complete job tasks adequately after retraining and task reassignment methods are not feasible, leaders may have to consider removing the employee from the position. The employee may be able to be assigned to a position with another team or department that they have a greater chance of succeeding in, or they may simply need to be let go. Retaining an employee who performs poorly across the board can place undue stress on other employees and waste organisational time and resources that may be better used training a new employee with the potential to be a better fit.
Head of Training
Originally published: 5 December, 2014
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