Identifying and tackling poor work performance effectively and in a timely fashion is an essential management skill. Many managers fear confrontation, but putting off dealing with employees who are not delivering to the standard you require is the worst thing to do. In the short term it might be easier to work round a poor performer, but quite quickly other employees get fed up with carrying a colleague and grumble about covering for him.
Where you have a poor work performance issue, take appropriate action as soon as you notice that the employee is not performing work to the required standard. Delaying, or worse, doing nothing, may well exacerbate the performance problem.
After youve had a discussion with the employee, create a performance improvement plan (PIP). Agree and set down precise performance targets which are capable of being measured, as follows:
1) Agree a process to keep both of you informed of progress and diarise follow-ups.
2) If the employee needs any training, specify that in the PIP.
3) Build in a date for an interim performance evaluation to assess the employees progress.
4) Include the employees suggestions in the PIP.
5) List the positive outcomes of successfully completing the performance improvement plan along with the negative consequences of failing to meet performance criteria.
6) Ask the employee to date and sign the PIP, acknowledging that he has read and understands its requirements.
7) Note that the process of encouraging the employee to improve his performance starts at the informal stage. If it becomes necessary to escalate to the formal process, the PIP will continue to run in parallel with any formal sanctions.
8) Review at weekly intervals, so you keep track of progress. If the situation picks up and the employee starts to perform better, this will be encouraging for both of you. Give accurate and targeted feedback.
9)Try to focus on the positive as this will increase motivation and performance.
10) Give enough time for the employee to improve; this should be at least one – three months, but it does depend on the circumstances. If in doubt give more time rather than less.
If the employees performance does not improve after the informal approach you can move to the formal process. The efforts to guide your employee to a raised standard of performance would continue in parallel with any formal sanctions.
Kate Russell is the author of How to Get Top Marks in Managing Poor Work Performance
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