By Muthoni Ndegwa
Under performing employees can be the reason your business crumbles over time, especially if these employees are not managed accordingly. As an employer, you may have forebodings about approaching these under performing employees to find out what could be wrong, but this only delays the inevitable.
Some employers may decide to give under performing employees time to recover to their usual self, avoiding a one-on-one confrontation, while others may proceed to issue warnings and threats if there is not improvement. These two directives are bound to result in one outcome; company losses and a dull work force.
So, how should you handle under performing employees?
The first step is always to focus on understanding what is bothering these employees. The fact that you discovered they were under performing means that you know what they are capable of and are now disappointed that they are not living up to it.
To cure your disappointment and revive normal performance in your employees, you need to understand that the under performance is stemming from somewhere. Then seek to solve it.
How do you do this?
- Establish that your company is not the problem
As an employer, you may be too focused on making things work from the top that you forget about what is directly affecting your employees. Are you providing enough resources for your employees to work with? Giving a directive for a task to be done is one thing, but if you do not follow up to ensure there are adequate resources to work with then you might end up with an under performing team.A sales team, for example, can start under performing if they do not have the right tools. It could be financial support, product and services training, motivational packages or even recognition. Employees are different, and so is their motivation. As an employer it is your duty to ensure they have what they need.
- Confront the under performing employees one-on-one
Once you have done all you can to ensure you are providing all the necessary resources and cannot understand why an employee is still not performing, it is time for a meet.Approach the under performing employees and point out the poor performance. Let the employee in on where they are not performing.
Some employees just need you to call them out on a mistake to change; otherwise they are not too bothered. Employees who want to stay will accept responsibility for their actions and aim for change.
- Guide the employees step-by-step towards performing
If the under performing employees accept that they have been reluctant on their job, then you can offer them guidance on what to do going on forward. As an employer, the best way to manage under performing employees is to help them in the recovery process.If you believe in an employee and have established what is troubling them, understand that they will be even more motivated to perform if you are directly involved. Employees may know the endgame of a project, but not know how to get to the end. Your step by step guidance will be appreciated.
- Lead your employees by example
A good leader and employer is one who is ready to show their employees by example; getting hands on with the project you want them to work on. Some employees start under performing when they feel they are the ones doing the dirty work while the employer is enjoying the benefits and giving unreasonable deadlines.As an employer, if you let your employees watch as you complete a task in the time you expect them to, then they are able to relate with the job and are motivated to see a task through and achieve company goals. This results to a company saving both time and money.
- Give under performing employees a deadline for every task
While this may sound as too much work, if you want under performing employees in your company to get back on the road to performance, you need to set deadlines. Having discussed the issues leading to under performance, given step by step direction and demonstrated firsthand how to handle a project, you need to set a time when a task should be completed.Working without a clear deadline is a contributing factor towards under performance as employees believe they have enough time, and can always turn in a project later than expected. An exact time and date when a project or task is due for review provides the employee with a tangible thing to work towards.
- Have a list of potential employees on the standby
Most employers keep under performing employees in their workforce because they dread the hiring process; starting to head hunt is not something employers look forward to. To avoid crippling your company with a pool of under performing employees because you have no one else for the job, keep a list of potential employees.
You can network and interview with employees from other companies to identify those that would work for you. This will give you a number of options when your under performing employees don’t change to your expectation.
- If the above attempts don’t work, it is time to fire
In the case you fail on your attempt to revive under performing employees, it is time to let them go. Some employees are just tired of their job and are looking for a way out; this is not your fault and neither is your company’s. Take pride in knowing you did your due diligence to manage the under performing employees when you could.
Most employers will regret on having taken too long to fire under performing employees, don’t become one.