Don’t Be Frightened of the Poor Performer

Don’t Be Frightened of the Poor Performer
Have you ever employed somebody you wish you hadn’t? Unfortunately, we all have at some point. It is a fact of life or employment. Yet, often managers are reluctant to deal with issues around poor performance. Why is that?

I run a short exercise on the “Managing Sensitive Staff Issues” course I run, asking managers to identify the reasons why they don’t deal with staff issues until they become more serious.

Invariably, they highlight items such as lack of confidence, lack of skill, lack of clarity of procedures, little experience, not sure if it serious enough to take action and others of a similar nature. What is always striking is that 80-90% of the reasons are to do with them as managers, not the individual who is performing poorly.

Poor performance can be the result of a number of factors but it always raises the two fundamental considerations: Can they do the job and Will they do the job? The first is about ability, the second about motivation.

Can they do they job?

Inability to perform to the standard required can be for due to factors which can be resolved with appropriate action, for example, lack of training, clarity of communication of requirements. However, if the causes are more fundamental, for example change in organisation, processes or technology, and an individual is unable to adapt or cope with the different situation, then it falls within a company’s Capability Procedure.

These cases should be dealt with sensitively and supportively as they often involve the individual leaving the organisation.

Will they do they job?

Dealing with this situation is completely different. The reason for poor performance is lack of motivation, commitment or interest or all three. It can well demonstrate itself in intermitted ’sickies’. The individual is well capable of performing the job to the required standard but chooses not to.

This situation handled through the company’s Disciplinary Procedure.
Managers tips for dealing with poor performance

1. Be clear on your standards and expectations of performance and communicate them to staff, ensuring they understand

2. If poor performance emerges during the probationary period, consider early termination employment, subject, of course, to consideration of any discrimination implications. Also, review the recruitment decision to identify why you may have recruited the wrong person

3. Keep clear records of performance levels and feedback discussions

4. If performance issues emerge, investigate thoroughly and discuss with individual to obtain their view and explanation

5. Decide if it is capability or motivational issue

6. Give a defined opportunity to improve

7. Ensure you identify and comply with the correct company procedures for the situation

Jim Gilhooley
Morlan Gil Human Resources