When an employee is performing abysmally, your gut reaction may be to can him. But in many professions, talent is scarce, so unless you have a replacement at the ready, there’s no telling how long it may be before the position is filled again.
Then, there’s the cost associated with recruiting candidates, training a new hire and waiting for him to get up to snuff and eventually surpass the performance of his predecessor. Improved performance is the hope, at any rate. Even if his record of achievements is as long as your arm, there’s also no way to know how he’ll do in the new role until the results actually come rolling in.
In short, it can be better to stick it out with an existing team member than to throw in the towel. Really weigh the likelihood of turning a lackluster employee into a high performer and consider the potential ROI you could achieve through either developing the existing employee or starting fresh. Here are four steps to help in making those determinations:
Identify performance paradoxes
It often happens that weak performers believe they are doing well. This can happen anytime there’s a communication breakdown. If expectations aren’t conveyed clearly and/or the superior fails to address issues with the employee. Poor communication may be attributed to a lack of time, a strained employee-manager relationship or mishandling of the situation on the manager’s part. The key here is to make sure the employee’s understanding of the job and of what’s required of him is strictly aligned with his manager’s expectations and then to communicate about issues as they arise.
Set performance improvement goals
The job isn’t over once the problem has been pinpointed, however. The second order of business is to come up with an action plan for improving outcomes. Be sure to encourage and motivate the performer along the way, even offering incentives for reaching certain milestones and discussing possible career progression opportunities.
Staff, and particularly struggling staff, need to know that they’re valued. Making an investment in them through training can broaden the employees’ capabilities, deepen their skill sets, facilitate greater focus on behavioral improvement and foster greater loyalty in your organization.
You’ll need to have a good grasp on your employees’ strengths if considering redeployment, or reassignment to another functional area. The idea in transitioning the failing employee is to shift his responsibilities away from areas in which he struggles and into a role that’s more complementary of his skills.