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Dealing With Poor Performance in Organisation

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For every hundred men hacking away at the branches of a diseased tree, only one will stoop to inspect the roots.

– Chinese proverb

If one or more members of your team are not performing as well as you hoped, then  this adage has a lot of meaning for you. You must get to the bottom of the problem in order to determine what is causing the poor performance of employees.

In your role as a manager, you’ll have to manage a low-performing employee at some point. You’ll have to deal with that person who isn’t doing his or her job properly. You’ll need to speak with your teammate who can’t seem to keep up. However, taking a step back and observing the issue may be the greatest thing you can do before jumping right into the conversation.

You’ll be better able to resolve the issue if you know what’s causing the bad performance, and you might even be able to leverage that employee’s unique talent.

Let’s first understand what makes a performance poor.

What Are the Factors of Poor Performance?

To quote Whelton and Cameron from the book Developing Management Skills, performance is a function of both ability and motivation.

The formula for Performance = Ability x Motivation

The two root reasons for poor performance — a lack of ability and a lack of motivation. Both are strongly intertwined and goal planning, feedback, and a supportive work environment are required conditions for improving both.

Before one can fully fix a performance issue, one must first determine the source of the issue as poor performance can impact workplace productivity.

Performance is affected by both ability and motivation, and the most successful productivity improvement initiatives incorporate approaches to improve both. This creates a healthy environment in which employees feel supported in reaching their full potential and appreciated in the knowledge that the organisation is interested in finding a good match for their skills.

Managers and employees alike are concerned about poor performance. It is a source of concern for senior executives because it is a gauge of the organisation’s effectiveness. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that many organisations fail to address it. 

A Question To The Leaders and Managers: What Exactly Do You Want To Do With Poor Performance Evaluation?

A latency in workplace productivity may be troubling if leaders do not get a handle on it. Every organisation may see an ebb and flow in productivity owing to a variety of circumstances, but a lag in staff productivity can be troubling if leaders do not get a grip on it. To do so effectively, leaders must first identify where poor performance is occurring, and then delve further to determine what is driving it.

Employers must determine what they are trying to accomplish with poor performance evaluation.

Case 1: To Eliminate Poor Performers

Small-scale weeding has a tremendous impact on the rest of the staff, sending the message that the company is serious about improving performance.

Case 2: To Restructure 

If the goal is to improve organisational performance, be sure to identify the lowest performers and reassign goals and responsibilities to enhance workplace productivity. 

Case 3: To Improve Performance

Improving performance might be better defined as rejuvenating people and improving their abilities and communication. This strategy works best when companies take a collaborative approach, with senior executives collaborating with colleagues to support the line and maximise performance

Organisational Psychology Of Poor Performance Between The Leader and Team

This section is based on the wise thoughts of W. Edwards Deming, the legendary organisational psychologist. 

The 85/15 rule was a theory developed by Deming. The theory said that the system in which an employee worked determined 85 percent of the person’s performance. Only the rest 15% is the actual employee. That means if you’re trying to figure out what to do about a bad performer, look around first to make sure it’s not a problem with the surroundings regarding workplace productivity.

It is also helpful for leaders to use the TAPS to manage Poor Performance.

T- Timely and Early Identification

A- Appropriate Management Style And Response

P- Keep it private

S- Make it factual and specific to performance

Keep a check on to see if the coworkers are getting along. Also, make sure you’ve stated your expectations clearly. Competent employees work hard to achieve what they THINK are management’s objectives, only to discover too late that they were working on the incorrect tasks, which can explain a lot of poor performance of employees and lack of motivation.

If not the system, then the poor performers themselves are to blame. However, it may or may not be what we would call an individual’s “fault” in this case. There are numerous aspects that influence individual performance. Poor performance could indicate a capacity issue, in which case your employees lack the necessary knowledge, skills, or capacities to do the task.

As a result, your responsibility is to retrain, upskill or assign a better position. It could be a communication issue, which means they’re not engaging correctly with the rest of the team and it’s their “responsibility,” but they simply need to work on their interpersonal skills. It could also be a lack of motivation. Perhaps they’re tired of completing the same projects over and over again and need something that will expand and grow them. Perhaps they aren’t responding to the conventional workplace incentives, and you need to help them find something else they’d work for.

Or, perhaps they truly do not want to work, in which case you must have the painful dialogue of asking them to be successful somewhere else. But, as Deming would point out, that’s not the case.

Whatever conversation you have to have, the greatest thing you can do is make sure you have a clear vision of what that discussion is. Don’t rush into meetings with poor performance and assume it’s a motivation problem when the employee believes it’s a system problem. Get objectively clear on what’s driving the bad performance, and if you aren’t, make your initial conversation one in which you offer assistance in determining what’s wrong.

Average managers deal with poor performance by claiming responsibility for it. Good managers find out the reason for lack of motivation first and then make adjustments.

5 Tips To Handle Poor Performance Effectively

Dealing with poor performance of employees can be an emotionally invested experience. 

One of the most difficult challenges for a manager is determining how to respond effectively to bad performance. However, people frequently resist dealing with such circumstances because it typically leads to blame pointing, rage, and denial if not handled properly. Managing poor performance can raise a variety of challenges in the organisation, all of which must be addressed with the highest maturity and effective strategies.

To Have That Tough Conversation, Be Specific With Facts

It is critical to confront your staff about their individual ability. However, in order to persuade them about their lack of interest, you must also have a consistent record on hand. For example, if the employee has been routinely late for an extended period of time, provide accurate information on the frequency and intensity of absenteeism. Make certain that you do not overstate your words or use harsh language in order to lower the employee’s self-esteem. Simply be direct and precise. Make clear the requirements if necessary.

Keep The Expectations of Employees

Poor performance isn’t typically the result of a reckless employee. There could be a variety of valid causes for poor performance, and they may differ from person to person. The first step is to comprehend the rationale and determine whether or not it is genuine. Even if they are not, do not inform the other individual.

Pay attention to their concerns and offer appropriate solutions. For example, if your employees are unable to concentrate on their work due to personal stress, organise counselling sessions to ensure they can get back on track.

Focus On Positive Feedback

Everyone reacts differently to feedback. While it is always best to be upfront and clear in your communication, there are some tactics you may use to properly communicate your feedback. Make feedback a substitute for a fix-it mindset towards poor performance of employee.

If your employee is having problems meeting his or her objectives, collaborate with him or her and provide all essential assistance to improve performance. The ideal technique is to provide weekly or monthly feedback to your staff so they know what they need to do to meet their objectives.

Provide Incentives And Reward

When you notice your employees performing poorly, it is always preferable to use a carrot and stick method to achieve immediate and consistent change. It is a weekly or monthly combination of rewards and punishment that you can impose on the top and worst performers. Since the dawn of time, this has proven to be one of the most effective methods of combating poor performance concerns in businesses of all sizes.

Confronting poor performers for the first time may be discouraging for managers, but having a good framework in place to deal with them is critical, especially during change management performance. It is usually preferable to deal with such problems rather than ignore them in order to retain the consistency of workplace productivity and profitability.

Coaching To Improve Poor Performance

Managers might take on the role of coach to help employees improve their understanding and skills. Unless managers are given a workforce that already has all of the knowledge and skills they will ever need to execute their jobs, some learning must occur during the employment relationship. Coaching is merely a technique for managers to enhance whatever official training and on-the-job learning that their workers receive, as well as to provide remedial education when performance inadequacies require it.

Coaching can also be used as part of a long-term strategy to enhance employee development. One of the measures used to evaluate leaders is how successfully they grow others. Some CEOs who are very effective at achieving goals like expanding the business and increasing stock value do a terrible job of preparing their successors. When they leave, their former company may struggle since no one was willing to take over. The ability to groom others is one of the characteristics of the best leaders. Of course, managers are not the only ones that conduct executive coaching.  Executive coaching focuses on interpersonal skills and leadership styles rather than technical knowledge.

Although executive coaching is a growing industry, if you want to upskill yourself in the coaching profession, get intouch with our team for The Art and Science of Coaching.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How does motivation impact performance?

Performance is a product of ability and motivation.

How can workplace productivity be enhanced?

To enhance workplace productivity, it is important for the manager to understand the cause of the issue and provide assistance and resources.

What are the causes of poor performance of employee?

The two root reasons for poor performance — a lack of ability and a lack of motivation.

Why do employees have lack of motivation?

Lack of motivation is result of lack of employee engagement, incentives, quirks and recognition in a workplace.

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