Managing low performing employees is stressful.  How much time and effort should be invested in helping them improve?  When do you change from investing in them to terminating them? Helping an underperformer improve requires a lot of attention and involvement. Identifying and understanding what’s causing their lack of performance will help you determine what support they need in order to improve.  Low performers tend to create a series of headaches throughout the year, but at performance review time, they really put their supervisor’s managerial skills to the test. Manager performance assessments are required to determine if a manager effective at managing low performers.

Overall Job Fit

Job fit is defined as the compatibility between individuals and the job or tasks that they perform at work. Do the employee’s abilities meet the demands of the job?  The idea of overall fit is that the characteristics of the person and the requirements of the job work jointly to determine individual performance outcomes. Demands-abilities fit occurs when the individual possesses the abilities (skills, knowledge, interests, and motivations) to meet job demands. When environmental demands exceed personal abilities, stress and negative affective consequences are likely to result.  Overall job fit has been found to have strong positive correlations with job satisfaction, engagement and organizational commitment.  Overall job fit is positively correlated with overall performance and tenure, and negatively correlated with turnover.  Overall job fit needs to be assessed before beginning a performance improvement plan.

Performance Improvement Plan

Most companies use some version of a Performance Improvement Plan allowing about 90 days to show a substantial improvement in performance.  Performance expectations need to be clear.  Carefully create a step-by-step performance improvement plan that allows the employee to gain the training that he or she may need. Make sure the employee is provided every resource needed for success.  The manager needs to track the employee’s progress towards meeting those performance expectations.  If the employee is not able to meet the performance improvement goals they are usually terminated or re-assigned.

Keep Accurate Performance Records

Before you begin thinking about a Performance Improvement Plan you need to have well-documented performance records.  What records do you have to support a decision to keep or terminate the employee? Have you gathered 360° data that reveals any performance gaps? Do historical performance reviews indicate there is a need for improvement?  Upgrade your performance management system so that it can handle multiple assessment models, data analysis, skill development and training records.

Obtain Consensus

The best way to have a fruitful discussion of low performance is to get the employee to agree that performance issues exist. Once the employee and manager are on the same page and recognize the performance problems clearly, ask the employee to suggest possible solutions. This will give the employee a sense of control over the process, which can support a better individual development outcome. 

Monitor Progress

Arrange a check-in schedule so the manager and the employee can meet on a regular basis and monitor progress on the performance improvement goals.   What if the employee improves greatly?  Is there a reward or incentive program in place to keep them engaged and satisfied? What if after extensive coaching and development, the employee is still struggling in their role? Managers need to ensure that the consequences for falling short are clarified and understood by both parties.

Manager Development

Competent managers can successfully handle low performers.  Do they take charge? Are they using organized action plans? Do they use their authority objectively and fairly?  Do they motivate and inspire others using optimism and self-confidence? The first step in ensuring your organization has competent managers is by completing an objective Manager Performance Assessment.   Once their strengths and weaknesses are clear, the manager can work with a coach to develop action plans to improve.  When managers perform effectively, teams and organizations thrive. But when they don’t, businesses fail. You can assess the competencies of your managers by using an assessment tool like the CheckPoint 360 Survey.  It encourages manager performance that drives results from the top down.  Contact us to get started today. 

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