Any business is only as good as the people it employs. Encouraging and incentivising each individual to optimise their performance, therefore, is crucial for the success of the organisation as a whole.
But how do you manage an underperforming employee?
This is where good performance management practice can help. When set procedures are in place, any performance issues can be tackled quickly and effectively.
What is underperformance?
Terms such as ‘underperformance’ and ‘poor performance’ can sound rather subjective. However, there are clear benchmarks to determine when an employee isn’t doing their job properly. For example:
- Not meeting the agreed standard expected of them
- Not following agreed workplace procedures
- Not acting in an acceptable manner when at work
- Disrupting others from their work
- Damaging the prospects of the company through negative conduct.
How to manage underperformance
Here are five performance management tips to help you manage underperforming staff:
- Acknowledge the problem
Make clear to the employee in what way their performance is not meeting the standard it could. Make any feedback constructive, as it is in the employee’s interest to improve the way they work.
- Document any discussions
Keep a record of any meetings and action agreed to address the problem. This can be helpful for monitoring progress and demonstrating the attempts that have been made to help the employee improve. A well-organised performance management system will include a checklist for dealing with such situations.
- Identify where they need to improve
Support the employee in anything they need to do to overcome what is causing them to under-perform. This may involve training, for example. Continually keeping your employees’ skills up to date can help to prevent problems of underperformance occurring in the first place.
- State a definite course of action
Be precise about what is expected of an employee and where they are falling short – especially after action has been taken to remedy the problem. Anything less formal can result in ambiguity, which makes any future dismissal harder to justify.
- Assess your own performance
Poor performance among employees could be the result of poor performance at management level. Have your own performance assessed and audited according to your company’s performance management criteria to ensure you are providing the best guidance and communication to assist the employees you are responsible for.
Following up after underperformance issues
Regular follow-up meetings should be held following any attempt to tackle underperformance issues. This provides an opportunity to assess what progress has been made and examine what further action may need to be taken.
Employers should recognise where performance has improved and praise the employee for successfully addressing the challenge. Of course, if performance doesn’t improve and an employee has not changed their behaviour as you have requested, it will be necessary to issue a clear warning and begin to consider removing the employee from the business via a dismissal procedure.
But that’s an issue for another blog.