Dealing with Marginal Employee Performance
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Fishing For Stellar Performance

There’s a saying about fish and house guests – both start to smell after a while. Employees can have the same tendency. It’s not every employee; some stay fresh by working hard every day, improving their skills and contributing. Others start out strong, but in time they grow stale. The magic is gone – but they aren’t!

Dealing with Marginal Employee Performance
  • Some start off strong and accomplish a lot. Really “A” player material! Over time, though, you’re less pleased with them. They dazzle you on occasion, but not consistently.
  •  Some excel at parts of their job – important parts – while in other parts, they fail. For example, the salesperson who closes one deal after another, but he never turns in his paperwork. Or, the project manager who keeps the project moving, but the reviews for her team members are three months overdue.
  • And then, there are those who were “stinky” when you hired them, and you knew it. If this is the case, this article probably isn’t going to help you. Instead, you might want to view Hire Correctly, Not Quickly and start over.

Now, you are in a quandary. Your team members are valuable, but not as valuable as they could be or once were. What went wrong – and how can you correct the ship?

First, what sort of return on investment have you gotten with this person? Have they responded to the corrections and criticisms that you have given them along the way? Are you seeing that the coaching and performance management conversations that you’ve had in the past are having an effect?

I see a lot of managers and business owners who don’t want to “give up” on a team member, especially one who is valuable in some ways. But, you’re wasting your time trying to correct them if you aren’t seeing improvement or progress.

Second, don’t just look at their best days. What is an average day like for this person? Even if they have some star moments, if their average day isn’t good enough, then you can’t keep them around for just the highlight reel. They need to bring value daily. Otherwise, they are typically bringing you and your team down.

Lastly, look inside. What emotions are you feeling that make you want to hold on to this person? Is there fear that you’ve failed? Are you dreading searching for a replacement? Do you like this person and don’t want to hurt their feelings? These are all bad reasons to hold onto a poor performer. It’s time to face your fears and let them go.

Don’t let these situations fester! It really is time to “fish or cut bait”. When you are unhappy with an employee situation, it’s time to deal with it directly, or send them packing.

Photo credit: ralph and jenny

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