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How to Engage a Poor Performing Employee

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How to Engage a Poor Performing Employee

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How to Engage a Poor Performing Employee
More often than not, the reason for poor performance is because the employee does not know what is expected. Both employee and boss may be under the mis-apprehension that the employee goals and expectations are clear. Sure, clear as mud!

How to Engage a Poor Performing Employee
More often than not, the reason for poor performance is because the employee does not know what is expected. Both employee and boss may be under the mis-apprehension that the employee goals and expectations are clear. Sure, clear as mud!

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How to Engage a Poor Performing Employee

  1. 1. How to Engage a Poor Performing Employee Rex Gatto Ph.D., BCC How to Engage a Poor Performing Employee More often than not, the reason for poor performance is because the employee does not know what is expected. Both employee and boss may be under the mis-apprehension that the employee goals and expectations are clear. Sure, clear as mud! There can be a few reasons for these unclear messages: • Communication between the boss and employee around performance expectations are not specific, clear, measured, realistic, and prioritized • Changing priorities have not been clearly articulated if at all • Employee and boss did not come to an understanding of urgency • Employee is not meeting the expectations of the job responsibilities • Unrealistic expectations are set or the boss keeps moving the performance bar There are times when the right employee is in the wrong place, i.e. the right employee (hard worker, loyal, cares, tries, dedicated) is not ready or able to meet job expectations and responsibilities. There are also times when you have the wrong employee who needs to be terminated and the boss takes a long time to take action. What does it mean to have a poor performer? We need to define performance and explain how to measure performance before questions can be answered about poor performance. Look at the following equations as they relate to employee performance:
  2. 2. Equations Performance = Competence x Motivation (P = C x M) Competence = Knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform job responsibilities Motivation = Effort, desire, initiative and attitude while completing job responsibilities. Regardless of the job responsibilities, the equation P = C x M will always hit the mark for defining performance. However, it is important that the job responsibilities be clear, specific, measurable, and mutually understood in relationship to actions that will demonstrate a level of required competence and motivation. To be clear, we should no longer be using job descriptions, a listing of actions that an employee could perform. Rather, a clear documentation of responsibilities that need to be fulfilled should be highlighted, discussed and continually reviewed by the boss and employee. They both also need to clearly discuss priorities, urgency, and what is needed, required and wanted along with changing priorities and organizational need. I recently had a consulting engagement to resolve a performance issue. A very motivated employee was given a special assignment that was to take priority over the agreed to performance goals established for the year. The employee performed very well in completing the special assignment. When it came time for this person’s review, the boss complimented the employee on the special assignment and then proceeded to outline all of the previously agreed-to goals that were missed because of the special assignment. As a result, a highly motivated and skilled employee became demotivated and began looking for positions outside of the department. The boss/HR manager called me and asked me to talk with the employee. What are your thoughts about this story? Have you seen anything like this, with the boss absolutely missing the purpose of performance feedback? Unfortunately, the lackluster employee who is not fulfilling job responsibilities, unable to meet job requirements, lacking of knowledge, and not demonstrating needed skills gets more sensitivity from the boss (even with a PIP). How can a boss engage a high and or poor performer? Actually by doing the same performance feedback process actions. Following are helpful hints to support and motivate employees: • Mutually agree to performance expectations – be specific • Discuss the right actions/ behaviors the employee does • Discuss the actions/behaviors the employee needs to enhance • Be proactive in giving and sharing insights about performance • Continually give feedback on performance • Set ground rules concerning performance changes, priorities, along with departmental and organizational goals
  3. 3. • Discuss training to enhance performance • Discuss having a coach to enhance performance • Have the employee do self-evaluations each quarter • Listen, ask, and listen (what did you hear; what didn’t you hear) • Refocus on goals, changes, needs, and career development Use the above points as a blue print for enhancing every employee’s high and low performance. Spend as much time with the high performers as with the moderate and low performers. Help to make a difference through performance feedback and recognition! As bosses engage the high, moderate, and low performers, they are also developing their own skills as a boss. Great questions to ask your employees: • Does this job fulfill your need? • Do you feel challenged performing job responsibilities? • If you had everything you needed to perform you job responsibilities, what would you be doing now? Helping employees feel good about themselves adds to a high level of job performance. Tomorrow, take time to observe your own performance as well as that of the others you work with. As a boss, you know now how to measure performance: take the time to do it correctly and you can make a difference in your life and your employees’ lives! Rex Gatto Ph.D., BCC President Gatto Associates LLC. 412 344-2277 (Office) www.rexgatto.com rex@rexgatto.com

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