Misfits Blog #1 An Improvement Strategy for Non-Performers

By Tayo Leigh

 17 Jun 2015     Comments

Performance = Ability x Motivation

Performance management is a significant part of a manager’s job, and one of the most difficult aspects of it can be how to manage poor performance. When an individual is not performing well, managers will often look for a quick fix. However the issue can be complex. Poor performance may be caused by a number of factors and it is not always easy to ascertain the root cause.

Confront the issue head on!

Firstly you will need to confront the issue by discussing the problem with the poor performer. Do so immediately and make sure that you are clear and specific using factual information to back up your points.
Secondly, you will need to assess the individual’s ability and motivation and try to determine which has negatively affected their ability to perform satisfactorily.

Ability = Aptitude, Training, Skills and Resources

Motivation = Desire + Commitment

Do they have the ability?

To diagnose lack of ability, look for:

  • Lack of improvement over time
  • Evidence of great effort despite poor results
  • Under-qualified in terms of experience, skills and training

What can you do?

If the problem is lack of resources, you may observe your staff member's frustration. Talk to them and ask whether they have all they need for their work. You are obliged to provide your staff with the resources they need to do their work well but it can be hard to ascertain whether this is really the root cause or merely an excuse. If you conclude that they do have adequate resources, then you are left with 3 remaining options:

Retrain, Reassign or Release

The solution may be to retrain the person

so that their skills match the job requirements. However, this does not always work. It depends on the size of the gap between their current ability and the required ability for the job. The root cause may be a hiring mistake –they are simply the wrong person for the job and you need someone with different skills.

In this case you will have to either release them or try reassignment. It is not always easy to fire employees depending on the policy of your organisation and the employment contract. Reasignment may be a preferable option. This could mean offering them a different role within the organisation or simply removing the aspects of their work that they find most challenging, leaving them to concentrate on the areas they can do well.

How to motivate

Goal Setting:

Goal setting can help to improve motivation. This is where you engage the low performer in setting performance goals, they need to both understand and agree to the goals for it to work. Then as a follow up they will require regular and timely feedback on their progress to monitor whether they are on track.

Reward & Recognition:

Assess the way in which staff are rewarded and try to ensure that your reward system is designed to encourage the right sort of work behaviors. For example if employees are mainly rewarded for sales, but you want them to also concentrate on customer service and after sales care, you will have to adjust your reward system to reflect this. Otherwise, employees may well just concentrate on the activities that are explicitly rewarded. Give recognition to employees who perform well, this will both encourage them and also signal to other employees what behaviour is valued.

So, once you identify poor performance, the key thing is to confront it head on. Try to analyse the root cause, and address that rather than just the symptom. The more immediately you take steps to address it, the less damage it can do to your organisation.

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Kind Regards


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