Managing Performance – Don

As a manager, it is your job to ensure that the work gets done effectively. Coaching and discipline are unpleasant tasks. However, it must be a part of your everyday job duties. Here are some common mistakes managers make in handling poor performers.

Ignore the problem.

Count on peer pressure to correct sub-standard performance. This rarely works and the staff grumbles about the ineffective way the issue is being dealt with.

Have a group meeting.

Instead of dealing directly with the problem employee, a meeting of the work group is held and standards of performance are repeated with the hope that the slacker will get the hint. This is a waste of time for your “A” players and the slacker rarely gets the hint.

Transfer the slacker.

When the slacker applies for a job in another department, the supervisor gives the employee rave reviews about their work habits. When the transfer is made, one supervisor gives a sigh of relief and the other just sighs.

Delegate discipline to a coworker.

Let the person do your ‘dirty work’. This is not fair to the trusted employee nor is it fair to the slacker.

Lay off the problem child.

A supervisor knows there is not enough documentation to terminate the individual for cause and chickens out by informing that employee that their position has been eliminated. A month or two later a new employee is hired. The next thing you may be looking at is a charge of discrimination from the former employee.

So how do you improve the performance of your “B” and “C” players and not drive away the ‘stars’ or trusted “A” players?

First you need to have measurable standards. So, when an employee is not meeting those standards, it is easy to figure out. Example: a shipping clerk who has to process 25 shipments per day. If the employee is only processing 20 a day, the standard is not being met. Then you must take immediate action.

Second, you must clearly communicate regularly what you expect from your people and why the expectations are important. Perhaps the problem employee is not aware of how her performance affects others on the team or in other departments.

Finally, always be fair and consistent in the way you handle performance problems. Fairness in that everyone should be given a chance to improve. Consistency in that you don’t play favorites – that means giving some people more leeway than others.

An effective leader not only establishes goals, delegates work, but also does not disappears until it’s time for the yearly performance appraisal. She also coaches and provides regular performance feedback to everyone – the stars, the slackers, and the misfits.

Marcia Zidle, the ‘people smarts’ coach, works with business leaders to quickly solve their people management headaches so they can concentrate on their #1 job

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