April 24, 2018 • 3 minute read • by Saeed
“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.” ~ Mae West
In all my time as a management consultant and executive coach, I have had one challenge surface more than any other: fixing performance problems.
Poor performance typically falls under one of these category types:
· Underperformance related to personal problems
· Breaches of workplace policies and procedures
· Unsatisfactory quality or quantity of work
Of these, unsatisfactory quality or quality of work is the most common. It is the problems related to attitudes, motivation, skills, and knowledge that challenge managers the most. Here is how that breaks down into the most common performance related issues:
1. What am I supposed to do?
Often, employees don’t know what they are supposed to do. This may be because of an unclear job description or may be because you have not communicated expectations and standards clearly. The fix is simple: communicate expectations and standards clearly, check for understanding and monitor performance. Provide reinforcing feedback when you observe improvements.
2. Why am I supposed to do it?
Next, employees may not understand the why of a task or a change in office policies. When people don’t understand why, they put up resistance. Here again, the fix comes in the form of clear communication explaining the reasoning behind policies, procedures, performance standards or changes. When possible, involve your employees in the solutions. People tend to own the solutions they are part of creating and therefore more motivated to support their implementation.
3. How am I supposed to do it?
Some employees don’t know howthey are supposed to do their job. They simply don’t have the knowledge and skill level you thought they did. In this case, you have to tell or show people how to perform their job and observe them while they attempt to do it. Reinforce what they do well and redirect what they do poorly or incorrectly.
A final word…
Most people do a good job most of the time. A few of them occasionally underperform. All of them probably mess up every once in a while. Performance problems vary from individual to individual and situation to situation. There is no silver bullet, no one best way of fixing them. Most people will perform well as long as they know what to do, why they are doing it and how to do it. Today’s employees are more independent and empowered than generations past. They need more than a simplistic reward system to maintain motivation and performance. Provide everyone who works for you with honest feedback on how well they’re doing on a regular basis. Be timely. Be specific. Be sincere. Explain how the good performance fits into the big picture. Listen to their concerns and use their ideas if possible. Identify and change policies, procedures and practices that are, in reality, obstacles to good performance. Make it easy for your people to do their jobs. Then sit back, and watch performance improve.
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