One of the toughest and frankly, most annoying aspects of being a leader is dealing with employees who aren’t meeting expectations. If you’re going to be in a people leading position, you’d better learn how to deal with it. Choosing not to deal with performance expectations means you’ve abdicated your job.
6 Steps to Deal with Employee Performance Problems
Be honest with yourself and your employee. Are they meeting expectations? Check to make sure that they really understand the expectations. Most people want to meet the expectations of their company, boss and coworkers, so make sure it’s not just a misunderstanding. If they do understand the expectations, confront the problem immediately.
Avoid Conflict by Focusing on the Requirements Not the Personality
Conflict avoidance is one of the biggest reasons people don’t hold people accountable. I wrote a couple articles on the techniques you can use to remove stress and conflict from these meetings. If you have trouble with conflict, I suggest you read those (they’re pretty good).
Take notes of your meetings with the person and keep the notes in a secure place. I know most people avoid this step, but the clock doesn’t start until you document that there is an issue. This documentation will be very important to demonstrate that there is a pattern of behavior that is unacceptable and that you have taken steps to correct it.
Work with HR
I understand that is can be very frustrating, but they are there to protect the company and can help you avoid violating federal and state labor laws. Your company probably has other requirements that you need to meet, so get with them early to make sure you’ve got your bases covered. Work with them to resolve the issues one way or another.
Don’t Put the Booger on the Other Finger
You may be tempted to move the person to another job, under another supervisor, but that’s just moving the problem. It also shows that you’re not much of a leader.
Trust Your Gut
How many times have you given someone a second or third chance and had it work out? Deal with every failure to meet expectations immediately. Putting it off will only make things worse for you, your team and the employee.
When Things Don’t Work Out
Sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes it’s just a bad fit because of skills, culture, work schedule, or any number of things. I think it is far better to admit that and deal with it than try to ignore it, avoid it or move it. Business is tough enough without carrying people on the payroll who are ineffective or even toxic.
If you’ve been honest with the employee and honestly worked with them to improve their performance, then you’ve done all that you can do. There should be no surprises when the time comes to end the employment relationship.
What do you think? Do you think leaders should deal with these problems knowing that the employee could lose their job?