Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dealing with Low Performers & Performance Issues

Why do we measure organizational performance? The first answers that pop into your head might be:
  • You can’t manage what you don’t measure
  • What you measure gets done
  • We have to be accountable
  • They have to be held accountable
  • They told us to (I always like that one!)   
Now what do you do if/when you have someone that is not meeting or achieving these standards while everyone else in your team is?

The first thing that must be realized is that as a manager the buck stops with you.  Its up to you transform these people and lead them in the right direction.  You cannot let low performers dictate the outcome of the team as a whole and as such the bar must remain at the level you have set.

It would be a big mistake to lower the bar in the interests of morale while sacrificing the requirements of the company.  By lowering the bar, you are only appealing to the elements of your team that are hopefully a minority.  Remember - you should always be aiming to reinforce positive behavior v.s. penalizing the negative.

You are the leader, whether you are a good one or not doesn't really matter at this point.  You are the one that success hinges around and are in the position of leadership for a specific reason. Your team needs you to communicate a vision. You need to ensure that you are communicating with all of them (not just the weaker ones) on a frequent basis and directing them appropriately and your team as a whole needs to know that you are committed to them and their success.

Ensure that you are communicating the goals and objectives frequently and that the targets are achievable.  You will always have a bell curve with people on the low end and people on the high end with the majority in the middle - your focus should be to shift the bell so that it is skewed towards the higher end at all times.

It is key to remember that these people are all there to do a job and to do it well.  You've hired for their skills and expertise and you need to ensure that non-performance is something that will be addressed swiftly and conclusively.  Not doing so is something that will definitely impact the morale of your team.  If you need some suggestions on how to go about this - read my post on PIPs (Personal Improvement Plans) - for an idea.  Remember, that you are doing the job you are doing to serve the business and its customers - friendships in the workplace are nice but there should ALWAYS be a line in the sand between Management and Staff.

One final point - I've mentioned that you are a leader already?  So LEAD!  You need to ensure that the example you are setting to your team is the right one and you should always be aiming for the stars!   

Your team will follow where you go.

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