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Engage and Revive the Under Performers

Under performance or poor performance has always been something to worry about by both managers and employees alike. Ever worked in a workplace or a team where your colleague isn’t exactly pulling their weight? It can be infuriating and troublesome. What can we do about it?

What is Under performance?

Under performance or poor performance is a failure to perform the duties of the job to satisfactory levels required by the company. A common mistake people associate under performance with is “misconduct”.

Misconduct involves absence from work, having a bad behaviour or attitude towards work/colleagues or breaching of policies and procedures. While Under performance entails unacceptable standard of work, poor quality of work and outputs and low productivity.

Should we figure out the issue or release the Under performers?

It is important to understand that people face problems and difficulties in their lives, whether it is short term or long term. It can be simple to label them as under performing and be done with it. Studies have shown that in most cases, under performance can be caused by a number of reasons; whether their roles are clear to them or having personal issues. There are a few questions you, as the performance manager, should question before labelling them as unsatisfactory.

  1. Are the expectations made clear to the employee(s)?

  2. Whether the employee has the right skillsets and training to complete the task

  3. Have you asked the employee what difficulties he is having and provide him/her help?

  4. Do you have conversations regularly with the employee to better understand their situation?

These questions are important in understanding the situation the employee is in; sometimes it could be a performance fix or more in-depth at the emotional level. In both cases, it is essential for the manager to be clear of the situation.

The behaviors and actions of the underperformers are just the tip of the iceberg. If you don’t address the entirety of the issue, it could blow out of proportion for both you and the organization.

Ways to help manage the under performers:

There are a number of ways to help manage and assist under performers to meet organisational working conditions. These are just some suggestions that will work in most cases; ensure that they fit with your organisation’s goals and compatibility.

A commonly used method is utilising the SMART objectives approach; where you set up “Specific” objectives, “Measurable” indicators of performance, “Agreed” responsibility and roles, “Realistic” achievements and “Timely” results. This approach is more organisational based and will involve the managers making it clear what is expected and that every employees know what is required from them.

To regularly conduct performance reviews, there are many cases where the employee may be unaware they are not performances are not meeting expectations. It needs to be conducted on a periodic basis and has to be specific with no generalisations. It is important to establish exact performance goals and the consequences that may occur if not achieved. Afterwards, if the performance review shows the employee is below expectation, the manager needs to organise training for the specific deficiency to maintain relevance of the employee; if the issue is performance related.

For cases that involve personal or more emotional-based problems, it is important to show support through a mentoring program. To match the employee with someone who they can learn and understand the skills involved as well as having someone to talk to. Being satisfied and happy at the job is essential for performing well too.

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