Career Masterclass: Help poor performers

Employees now doing as well as you'd hoped? Here's how to help them out of that rut...

by
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Give it to them straight. Explain the gap between their performance and what you expect, giving specific details ('Your client proposals lack detail and contain incorrect pricing' rather than 'your work is slapdash'). Then describe the impact of their performance. 'We had to honour your pricing and lost £6,000' should jolt even the most apathetic individual into action.

Check they understand. Nodding along is not enough. Ask them to explain what they will do differently in future.

Make a plan. Criticism usually causes despondency or panic. Get your reports fired up by deciding on priorities, setting goals and agreeing milestones. If you think they're overloaded, delegate some of their work. If it's skills they're lacking, organise training. Book fortnightly meetings to discuss their progress.

Have hope. Explain how much faith you have in the person and why ('I watched you turn around the struggling team. You can turn this around, too'). Got doubts? Keep them to yourself.

Avoid assumptions. Underperformance can just as easily be down to a system or process as an individual. Ask why your report thinks he or she's underperforming. Use neutral language ('what's been getting in the way for you?'), listen without judgement and if the problem lies elsewhere, be ready to fix it.

Share your vision. Reposition the underperformer's role ('vital to our client interactions' rather than 'boring admin') and discuss ways to incorporate more of what he or she enjoys.

Be there. Struggling employees need support, so praise improvement and give constructive support when things go awry.

- The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 - www.themindgym.com/books. Visit www.managementtoday.com/masterclass for further info about MindGym/MT masterclasses

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Want to encourage more female leaders? Openly highlight their achievements

A study shows that publicly praising women not only increases their willingness to lead, their...

Message to Davos: Don't blame lack of trust on 'society'

The reason people don't trust you is probably much closer to home, says public relations...

Dame Cilla Snowball: Life after being CEO

One year on from stepping back as boss of Britain's largest advertising agency, Dame Cilla...

How to change people's minds when they refuse to listen

Research into climate change deniers shows how behavioural science can break down intransigence.

"Paying women equally would cripple our economy"

The brutal fact: underpaid women sustain British business, says HR chief Helen Jamieson.

Why you're terrible at recruitment (and can AI help?)

The short version is you're full of biases and your hiring processes are badly designed....