Many managers are reluctant to deal with below standard performers despite the negative implications on the team’s culture. How can leaders prevent performance issues from snow balling into full blown problems?
A recent study by OnPoint Consulting surveyed over 900 leaders and found that only 45% believe that managers in their organizations effectively deal with poor performers. A surprising 55% report that managers do not handle employee performance issues in a direct or effective manner. Our research and experience has identified seven key ways to address performance problems before they poison your culture.
1. Leverage your performance management system. OnPoint’s research suggests that many leaders don’t think of their performance management system as a tool to manage the business and aren’t addressing performance issues within that context.
2. Paint a clear picture of what “good” performance looks like. In order to be able to pinpoint poor performance, you need to be very clear about what good performance looks like, translate that into specific behaviors and outcomes.
3. Don’t let expertise or revenue production be a get-out-of-trouble-free card for the employee. One of the biggest challenges for leaders is to take corrective action with an employee who is a top producer but whose behavior is not consistent with company values. If the espoused values are to have any real meaning then ‘how’ something gets done must be considered just as important as ‘what’ gets done.
4. Don’t delay. Raise performance concerns while they are fresh.
5. Provide ongoing coaching and feedback, both scheduled and “on the spot.” Behavior change is much more successful when efforts are regularly reinforced.
6. Celebrate small victories to build momentum and confidence. Too often, managers reserve recognition for their top performers or “save it up” until poor performers get up to standard.
7. Goal setting and coaching don’t just magically happen. Without these fundamental skills, no performance management system—no rating scale, no technology, no form—can turn performance problems around. Managers who use goal setting to drive strategy execution are able to effectively translate strategy into department goals and link individual efforts to these goals. In turn, this enhances employee engagement and accountability.
What’s your experience? Are managers willing and/or able to deal with performance issues before they blossom into full blown problems?