Push Over on Employee Performance Issues?
If you have been anointed manager, you surely must know that there are things you are responsible for that you’d rather not do. The highest priority item on that list of tough things to do is dealing with an employee who is a continuous performance problem. It not only impacts business, but when management simply let’s someone run amok, the ranks resent it and some will join in. This is not how you want to run the business.
Countless managers and executives, for all the toughness they may bring to the role, often turn into complete pansies when it comes to dealing with a problem employee. Are we having fun yet?
In order to keep that tough-minded veneer intact, here are some things you can do to address employee performance issues:
- Set performance expectations. Every employee needs to hear from you exactly what their performance should be and how you expect to measure them. Once you set clear direction, then ongoing conversations are easier to conduct. If they are headed for the ditch, you can let them know before it gets too out of hand.
- Act quickly. When you see an issue, you need to jump on it quickly while the details are fresh in your mind and theirs.
- Make a script. One of the biggest issues most managers face is difficulty in knowing how to start the conversation and what to say. It’s easier to do if you think through the key points you want to make, jot those points down and use your notes while you discuss them with the employee.
- Don’t be vague. Make sure you say early in the conversation, “There is an issue with your performance.” Short, sweet and no room to misunderstand.
- Give examples. Don’t just say there is a problem; be prepared to give examples that reinforce your observations.
- Stay calm. Sometimes wimpy managers have to get seriously ticked off in order to take action. Usually, at that point, they have let things get out of control. No one listens to a yelling person. You will lose your effectiveness. You will also lose respect from other employees if they realize this is how you function.
- Ask them to recap their understanding. In order for anything to change, you have to know they heard AND understood your message. Ask them to recap what you said and what they will be doing differently.
- Schedule follow-up. You can’t just toss a scud missile at the employee and think your job is done. While you are together, schedule a time to reconvene. Appointed follow-up will keep you both accountable.
- Repetition is key. Keep in mind that the employee did not come to work for you with the intention of doing poor work. However, they may have picked up bad habits or haven’t been adequately trained. To get them on the right track will require your sustained focus and numerous follow-ups before the new behavior is sustained.
If you aren’t dealing with the performance problems, you are creating numerous issues for yourself and those around you. While this might rank right up there with a root canal, you can reduce the pain with a few thoughtful actions.
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