Problems With An Employee's Performance

If there appears to be a problem with some aspect of the employee’s performance, answer the following questions before talking with the employee:

1. What is the difference between the employee’s performance level and the performance standard? Is it significant?

2. Is the performance standard realistic?

3. Does the employee know what is supposed to be done?

4. Does the employee understand why it is supposed to be done?

5. Does the employee know how it is supposed to be done?

6. Are there any hindrances to the employee’s performance that the employee can’t control, such as inadequate equipment?

7. Has the employee received feedback on this before or has this problem been ignored?

The next step is to confront, not criticize, the employee’s poor performance. Confronting is a positive process used to correct performance problems, gain the employee’s commitment to improvement, and maintain a constructive supervisor employee relationship. Criticism, on the other hand, is a negative process that, instead of concentrating on performance, blames the employee personally for not doing a job properly. It tends to be general, rather than specific, in nature, and generates excuses, blaming of others, and guilt on the employee’s part. Managers who confront employees are more interested in helping them feel confident about improving future performance, rather than making them feel inadequate and guilty about past performance.

When confronting an employee with what is perceived to be a performance problem, follow these steps:

1. Speak in private with the employee without any interruptions or distractions.Make the atmosphere as relaxed and friendly as possible.

2. Explain the reason for the meeting and express in a calm manner your concern about the specific aspect of job performance you feel needs to be improved. Describe the job performance concern in behavioral terms and explain its effect. Also, explain that you have not made up your mind yet as to the cause of the performance problem.

3. Ask the employee for his or her thoughts and opinions, using the seven questions just listed as a starting point to get employee feedback.

4. If the employee is the cause of the performance problem, work on getting his or her agreement that the problem exists. Next, ask the employee for some solutions to the problem. Discuss together some possible solutions and mutually agree on a course of action and time frame. Ask the employee to restate what has been agreed upon to check on understanding. State your confidence in the employee’s ability to turn the situation around.

5. Lastly, schedule a follow-up meeting to check on progress.


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