Sometimes your employees struggle to get their work done. This impacts the company’s bottom line and your reputation. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are deliberately sabotaging your efforts as a leader. There could be some genuine problems that need your attention. When you are dealing with performance issues you need to focus on getting your staff back on track.
First Get Control of Your Emotions
When an employee isn’t living up to expectations, it’s easy to take it personally. Situations like this can become extremely frustrating. Be honest with yourself, and take stock of how you are feeling about it. Dealing with performance issues effectively begins with directing your attention at the real problem. Stay calm, and focus on resolving the problem instead of harboring grudges.
Next Gather Your Data
You are going to have to talk to your wayward staffer at some point, and these conversations can become tense. No one likes confrontation. To take the edge off, it helps to have as many facts and figures to support your position as you can get. Numbers are hard to argue with and will help you avoid making personal attacks. They also provide a great metric for follow up conversations. Typical data to gather includes: – Sales figures – Department quotas – Attendance records – Job description – Past disciplinary measures Use the data to your advantage, and let the numbers tell the story for you. Your staff member may try to argue with you, but it is almost always impossible to argue with the numbers.
Speak Without Attacking the Individual
To avoid a senseless argument, be considerate of the feelings of your employee. When dealing with performance issues, you need to criticize the actual work results and not the individual. Types of phrases to avoid: – You are not meeting expectations – Your work is substandard – The poor quality of your work is disappointing These types of comments can be interpreted as personal attacks by the person you are talking to. Types of comments to focus on instead: – You have sold fewer products than forecasted – There have been too many returned items lately – The number of missed calls is limiting your selling opportunities Notice that these types of criticisms are specific and focused on the actual expectations of the job. They do not directly attack the person, but rather the measured outcome of that person’s work. Use a clearly defined job description to your advantage. Focus on the job requirements, and make sure expectations are clearly understood.
Always Invite Feedback From The Employee
Your employees need to be given a chance to respond to your criticism. Not only does this help to vent frustrations, but employees will often tell you important things you may not have known. They may disclose personal problems that are affecting them or complain about working conditions. Some employees are just not qualified to do the job. You could discover that additional training is needed. Be prepared to accept that they may launch personal attacks of their own at you. It is common for an employee to become defensive and lash out. This is one of the reasons why so many managers avoid dealing with performance issues. No one enjoys confrontation, but be the bigger person here. Be tolerant and forgiving. Remember that your ultimate goal is to improve failing productivity and not to win personal arguments.
Create a Corrective Plan
Work together with your employee to create a plan that addresses the productivity issues. It should include goals and target dates for meeting them. It may also include an additional training schedule. Try starting out by discussing a loosely organized set of milestones, and tighten things up as you zero in on a workable plan. This plan should be challenging but also obtainable, and it should incorporate some of your employee’s suggestions as well.
Offer Support and Encouragement
After the initial confrontation has taken place, a good manager will follow through and provide additional support and encouragement. The sense of accomplishment is one of the most rewarding aspects of a professional career, and your employees will often respond to your positive feedback. Closely monitor the performance of the employee. If it looks like things are on track, then you can be confident that the problem is resolved. If things appear to be getting worse, you may need to talk it over again. Dealing with performance issues in a professional environment is never easy. Make sure you take the time to get your message across clearly. Your goal is to build up an underachiever in a way that maximizes both of your rewards.