By Karen J. Gregory, HRSS President
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” Harvey S. Firestone
Several of my recent consults have related to the frustrations many small business owners and organizations are experiencing — lack luster performance from their employees. They are not seeing the results they want to see and ultimately they become very frustrated.
As they’re pulling their hair out and feeling at odds as to what to do, they’re asking me, “How do I find employees who really want to work?”, “What can I do to motivate them?”, or even the ultimate “I’m about to fire this person!” Whoa…now just wait a minute. Let’s talk this through.
If you have an employee who is not meeting the mark, then my first question is have you provided them their performance expectations? Do they know what their job entails and what is expected of them? In some cases, employees are unsure of exactly what they need to do in order to meet your standards.
Secondly, have you taken the time to provide meaningful feedback on their performance? I say meaningful because it should not be a passing by with a dirty stare or even worse, which I’ve seen quite a bit of lately, the avoidance option — you just don’t want to deal with them so you totally avoid dealing with the issue at hand. Well, that’s sure to make things better — umm…not so much! Take the time, schedule a 1-on-1 with the employee and provide specific examples of where they may not be meeting performance standards and then allow them time to show you that they can do better.
Third, if you have given them feedback and performance has not improved you need to ask yourself is the issue at hand due to skill or will? Does the employee have the skills needed to perform the tasks assigned? Are they equipped with the knowledge and materials needed to be successful? Or is it a will issue? Does the person care about the work assigned to them? Are they motivated to do well? Asking yourself this simple question of whether the lack of performance is based on a lack of skill or will will help you determine which path to go down next.
Once you identify the performance issue as a skill or will issue, you can move forward on making the necessary changes to support the employee with additional training or motivation so that they are armed to do well, possibly even exceed your expectations.
And the only way to determine if the lack luster performance is a skill or a will issue is to have a conversation with the employee to probe how you might be able to better equip them so they are skilled and highly willed to perform at their best.
If you try the 3 suggestions — provide expectations, feedback and determine the issue as skill or will — and in the end none of these increase the employee’s performance, then it’s time to consider the final option — transitioning them into another position that is better suited to them or show them the door.
As I tell many of my clients, having employees is not always an easy thing but it is a necessary thing because you can’t do it alone. With highly skilled and motivated employees, the opportunities are endless as to what an organization can achieve. So take the time and show you care about your employees by addressing the performance standards through supportive mechanisms like positive feedback and training and equipping
You might just be pleasantly surprised.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you manage low performing employees. Do you find this to be a challenge?