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Why Aren't They Doing Well?
What do your under-performers need?
Leaders need to keep tabs on the performance of their team members.
When someone is not doing well in their job, we need to figure out the cause, and then help create the change that will solve the problem.
Too often, we have a “one size fits all” model, and we think that just telling them where they are failing will be enough to fix the problem.
Instead, look to see what the issue is. Is it a new problem, or has it been going on a while? What does the person think is the cause of their performance issues? Talk to them.
If they are dealing with something outside of work (e.g., sleep deprivation because of a new baby, stress of a divorce, the challenges of a health issue, etc.), then you may choose to cut them some slack in the short-term. You may also encourage them to use some of their PTO, if appropriate.
If they are demotivated, find ways to remotivate them! Break up their workload, so that it is not all demotivating tasks. Some people enjoy collaborative projects with others rather than working alone. Some people find an open workspace chaotic and distracting, so consider ways in which they can work in a silent place by themselves. Some people get run down by an endless project with no milestones—they haven’t had a “win” in a while.
If they are taking too long to complete tasks and/or turning in low-quality products, they may need some training (or re-training). You might do it yourself, or you might ask someone else on the team who does the task well to coach them, or you might sign them up for a training course. Again, what do they need to succeed?
Look to see if there is an interpersonal issue on the team. Some people might not “fit,” or they may have a personal conflict with another team member. If this is the case, consider new workgroups, if possible.
Remind them of their worth. Give them a pep talk. “You really knocked it out of the park on the X project, and I know you can do it with this one, too.” or “You are a valuable member of this team, and we’re going to get you the training in this new system so that you can perform as well as you did with the old system.” or “You seem to have had a falling out with Terry and Sam. Let’s move you over to work with Alix and Lee, and see if the new team brings out the amazing skills we saw from you on the Y project.”
As leaders, we need to bring out every tool on our toolbox to help our people succeed. We can’t just ignore or tolerate poor performance issues and hope they will improve. We need to bring under-performers up to competency, if possible, because if they can’t do their job competently, they are in the wrong job. If you let them stay in that role, they will bring down the productivity and morale of the entire team, and in some cases, may even be the reason your top performers choose to leave.
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