As a manager, you’re responsible for the performance of each one of your employees. Not only that, but ideally, you’ll provide your people with the resources and support to optimize their performance and grow in their careers.
Naturally, everybody can have a bad day or even a bad week, but if someone’s performance is consistently subpar, you need to take action to improve it and help them to succeed.
Keep these five tips in mind.
1. Establish performance expectations. During your employee’s onboarding process, responsibilities and expectations should have been clearly set out. Sometimes, however, things get lost in the overwhelming amount of new information. So before you take any action, have a conversation with your employee to determine whether she knows exactly what is expected of her. In the best-case scenario, she simply wasn’t aware, and a quick correction resolves the issue of underperformance.
2. Determine where the problem lies. If the employee is clear on expectations, have an open and non-judgmental conversation to determine the problem. If there are tasks where he consistently makes mistakes or areas where he doesn’t feel confident, make a note of them. Your only goal at this point is to figure out which points need improvement.
3. Create a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Rob Carey writing for the National Center for the Middle Market advises making a step-by-step improvement plan for the employee. Set objectives, then work backwards to figure out mini-steps. Factor in additional support and resources, such as on-the-job training, a mentor and opportunities to attend conferences or other industry events. It’s key to discuss the PIP with your employee and tweak any areas where she has valid concerns. Once you both agree that the objectives are realistic and the resources are solid, secure the employee’s written agreement. This will enhance her feeling of accountability.
4. Assess progress regularly. You should make sure to assess the employee’s progress on the agreed dates, but it’s also a good idea to check in informally throughout the week. That way, if he’s feeling stuck or overwhelmed, you can work through it together.
5. Acknowledge and reward improvement. In her Entrepreneur article titled “9 Ways to Manage Underperforming Employees,” Abigail Phillips emphasizes the value of recognizing improvement and rewarding it. This can be as simple as “I see you did a great job on the statistics! Thank you!” or more formally by means of a meeting or group email to recognize her efforts in front of her coworkers.
Helping your employee improve his or her performance takes time and effort. Ultimately, since better individual performance leads to better company performance, it pays off for everybody involved.
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