Before you take disciplinary action against an underperforming employee, make sure you investigate the reason behind poor work performance.
It’s frustrating when employees don’t meet expectations. We’ve all encountered situations where training doesn’t seem to stick, rules are not followed correctly, or employees don’t seem to be doing everything they are supposed to. Whatever the situation is with your employee who isn’t quite up to par, it behooves you to determine if the problem can be fixed before you let the person go.
As a leader, consider these four possibilities when addressing employees about poor work performance:
- The work is impossible to accomplish. When we don’t actually perform the tasks assigned to a position, it’s easy to ask too much of the person doing that job. If a person is given more to do than there is reasonable time to accomplish it, work is going to get left undone. Take an honest look at what is expected of the employee and whether it’s even possible to perform the way you expect.
- Training was missed and nobody noticed. Just because a person held a similar position with another company does not mean he or she is aware of how you execute workflow at your facility. A lot of people get thrown into jobs to learn on the fly and have to wing it. This provides a lot of opportunity for failure, especially over things that are so second nature to other employees, it doesn’t occur to a trainer to cover them.
- It doesn’t seem important. What kind of verbal and nonverbal message are you and other employees sending about following the rules? Not only should training be consistent for all, but also everyone should be modeling the kind of behavior you expect to see. If one person shows up a few minutes late every day and is not reprimanded despite a clear policy on punctuality, others will get the impression that the rule doesn’t matter.
- The person doesn’t know he/she isn’t doing something. There are many reasons a person can miss instructions. He or she can misunderstand or misinterpret them. Often, training is so complex that it’s impossible to remember and/or catch everything. Sometimes the information just wasn’t given in the first place. Make sure the person really understands his or her obligations.
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