Dealing Effectively with Employee Performance Problems
The Issue: SBOs and managers often don’t know (or don’t want to know) how to deal effectively with employees spending too much time at work doing things that have nothing to do with business. Are you among them? If so, trying to avoid being the office Bad Guy when you have actionable intelligence about counterproductive behavior usually does more harm than good to your bottom line.
What I Think: SBOs need to hold employees accountable for the results they’re paid to produce. So instead of being a pushover or worrying too much about being tactful, you’re better off stepping up to the plate and dishing out some no-nonsense proactive coaching.
What is Proactive Coaching?
Proactive coaching is a supportive management approach that helps SBOs and managers overcome the usual ups and downs of changing employee behavior. According to AT&T’s Onward Small Biz: “Proactive coaching gives employees a great opportunity to upgrade their performance from average to excellent.”
Here’s how it works:
- Step up to the problem. You may been overlooking the behavior in question too long; but coming across as a hypocrite at a time like that is a lot worse than being taken for a pushover—with “taken” being the operative word.
- Be direct. Sub-par performance costs your company money. It’s a bad investment, and putting a stop to it is up to you.
- Meet one-on-one. Schedule a one-on-one sit-down session with the employee to discuss his/her sub-par performance, and what it means to the company financially.
- Set measurable expectations. The more specific and quantifiable you are about behaviors the employee needs to change, the more manageable your corrective steps will be.
- Avoid ultimatums. Again, be as specific as you can. Let the employee know you’ll continue assessing his/her progress, but this meeting represents an opportunity to change–perhaps the last opportunity.
- Evaluate progress. Set times and dates for follow-up meetings to evaluate the employee’s progress. If your expectations are being met, praise the employee. If not, explain that the employee’s job is at risk; by failing to alter his or her performance, that job may be on the line.
By trying to manage performance as a group exercise, good employees will be insulted, while your message is usually lost on those needing it most. Performance is individual; so is proactive coaching, which builds character and yields many happy returns on your investment.
What Do You Think? Your comments are welcome. Have you registered?
About the Author
Bill Willard has over 30-years experience providing high-impact written communications to small-business owners and independent professionals. Through interactive, Web-based “Do-While-Learning™” programs, e-Newsletters and straight-talking articles like the one below, Bill helps clients get the job done: profitably improving performance, helping grow their businesses, skipping expensive mistakes, making the journey to success faster, smoother, and easier. And fun! A Phi Beta Kappa and former managing editor, he lives in Clearwater, FL.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit his Website: http://www.writergazette.com/WillardAssociates.shtml
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