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Performance results are what leaders and companies use to determine success. It is certainly wonderful being in charge of successful performers. The flip side of managing low performers however, is more of a challenge. In this blog, we’ll talk about how to manage your employees with less successful performance results. As an Every-Day Leader you need to have reliable, consistent ways of interacting with direct reports, peers and your own boss. How you manage under-performing members of your team can make or break you as a leader.

Identifying under-performance with your employees

Under-performance is the inability to consistently complete the goals agreed upon for the current year and/or the inability to behave in a way that is consistent with the company’s core values. For example, some companies are known for their stellar  customer service and nothing less will do. When you reflect back on what the company stands for, it’s easier to identify the undesirable behaviors. Have you spent this year conducting accountability meetings with your team? This is a best practice habit to be able to “catch” performance problems early and address them on-the-spot.  

How to help ensure success 

After making an employee aware of his or her performance shortcomings, be sure to set clear expectations of improvement. Outline the person’s expected role and responsibilities and set measurable, achievable goals to turn things around. Involve them in this process, rather than dictating their improvement plans, to hopefully enable higher motivation. Ask how THEY think they can come to the table with some wins. Also, most importantly hold accountability meetings with them on a regular basis.

Try giving them a standing appointment so they can prepare and get inspired to share their successes and misses with you. In many cases, the anticipation of having to share results will motivate low performers to own their performance and make improvements. You can also provide professional development and skills training to therefore, improve their results. Another way, however, is to find them a coach who can help them stay focused on improving. Lastly, know their language preferences based on their behaviors and motivators! Also, find their “language” of appreciation and relate to them accordingly.

Be Courageous

Being an Every-Day Leader is not easy- it takes courage to speak the truth to your employees that are under-performing. As you’ve heard me say many times, be mindful of the communication preferences of the employee you are speaking with. Delivering crucial feedback to employees should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Assuming you know your people fairly well, deliver the message using these guidelines so they “hear” you:

1. Meet privately.

Be sensitive and don’t address individual challenges with specific employees during a staff meeting or group discussion where they’ll be more likely to respond defensively. Instead, schedule a time to meet in private so you can thoroughly address the problem and discuss solutions.

2. Identify the problem.

If an employee consistently arrives at work late, you may find it relatively easy to help that individual understand why that tardiness is unacceptable. Other issues related can be more difficult to define. Perhaps an employee performs his or her job well however, they are perceived as rude or aggressive by other team members. Lastly, clearly identify what needs to be said and how before speaking to the employee.

3. Ensure an issue is worth a conversation.

Some of the most successful managers and leaders tell their teams what they need to do, not how to go about it. Though someone’s approach or work style may be very different from your own, distinguish personality differences from performance issues.

4. Be clear and straightforward.

Having a discussion may be uncomfortable, but it’s important to clearly state expectations to employees and follow up when performance issues arise. If you don’t address a problem, it could fester and spread to other team members.

5. Make a plan and follow up.

Employees must be willing to accept their manager’s guidance and suggestions. Create a clear action plan together, and then follow up. Monitor the employee’s progress by meeting at regular intervals.

Every-Day Leadership Summary

People naturally want to please. It’s human nature. Your under-performers are the same way. When they see and feel you care about them and their success, then they will want to perform well for you. Invest in their success by identifying the problem, helping them reach success through measurable goals and their own individual development, and don’t forget using your leadership courage. You’re best outcome is to turn a low performing employee into one of your top performers! Contact me when you want more help in guiding your under-performers.

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