One of the key frustrations and pain points I hear about from business owners, leaders and managers is around an employee not performing. Either very directly simply failing to get their job done, or more covertly just not quite meeting the mark, or frustratingly just walking the line of getting things done – just – it’s constant frustration.
Quite often we feel frustrated because our Industrial Relations landscape is quite firmly focused on employees, and protecting their rights, leaving businesses with a whole lot of tricky red tape to deal with in managing underperformance, especially when termination may be on the cards. However, what might be really causing our frustration is the fact that we don’t really understand why on earth they can’t just do their job.
If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to bang your head against a wall wondering why they aren’t just doing what you need them to – you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Instead of getting frustrated, which will ultimately result in you not communicating effectively with your employee as to what you actually need from them, where they are falling short and what you can both do to bridge the gap, I encourage you to seek first to understand.
After working with businesses for more than 20 years on their human resources, and seeing performance issues as being the number one paint point for businesses, what I’ve observed and learnt is that there are really 6 core reasons for underperformance. Fundamentally, at the heart of it, all performance issues stem from one of these 6 core reasons. The good news is once you understand the reason for the performance issue, you have the knowledge you need to know what to do next to improve the issue.
These are the 6 core reasons your employee is underperforming.
Either you're not clear on what exceptional performance looks like, which means you can't make it clear to your team, or you haven't clearly articulated what your performance expectations are. Either way, a lack of clarity will drive underperformance because the employee doesn't know what's expected of them.
You may have clearly communicated what you expect in terms of performance, but the employee has misunderstood or misinterpreted. They have heard or translated what you said into something else - our expectations have been lost in translation.
We often expect our employees to be a clone of us, or the same as the last person in the role or all super stars. But it's not realistic, we can't expect our people to perform when the expectations we set are unrealistic for the role, their skill set or the operational environment.
If it can't be measured, it can't be improved. If you can't measure specifically what results are being achieved, how can you claim your employee is underperforming? Against what standards and measures are they missing the mark?
The employee in the role simply doesn't have the skills to perform the duties inherent requirements and success measures of the role in the current work environment. Maybe they were the wrong hiring decision, maybe they haven't kept up their skill development, maybe they need more training or possibly the role has simply outgrown them.
Your employee has effectively mentally checked out from their role. They might be lacking challenge, have personal problems, be struggling with the culture or workplace dynamics. They are there in body but not in mind and productivity is just the first thing to go.
If you read through this list, I am sure you can identify which one, or possibly which combination of reasons may be at play with your employee. Perhaps it’s clear, but if it’s not you now have a conversation to open up with the employee to better understand which of these core reasons might be underlying their poor performance.
Once you have that knowledge, you’re in the drivers seat to working towards a solution. If they are disengaged, take a look at your engagement strategies and either tweak or implement to improve engagement. If they have misunderstood your message and directions, re communicate and ask them to relay back to you so you can be sure they understand what’s expected. If you don’t have any KPI’s or clear ways to measure performance, get onto that and make it a priority.
At the end of the day we need to remember that our team don’t want to have performance issues, they don’t enjoy it any more than we do. They want to do a good job, they want to go home at the end of every day feeling like they have achieved something, not go home to feeling like a failure, it’s demoralising and demotivating. So we owe it to both them and us to figure out what’s going on and get performance back on track.
If you’d like to engage more with me in these discussions about creating amazing teams, whilst also connecting with other like minded business owners, leaders and managers, I’d love for you to join us inside our free Facebook Group: