As mentioned in last week’s post, this post is all about mediocre employee #1, the one who wants to be there and wants to succeed, but whose performance is not hitting the mark. What do you do? How do you manage this type of employee? First consider what you are willing to invest to change the situation. Then, address the problem head on.
Inc.com’s 4 Keys to Coaching Underperforming Employees gives good advice to use during this process.
- Strategy, Plans, Roles and Rewards. (The Conversation)
- Ask-“Confirm that your employee understands. Don’t proceed until you and the employee are both perfectly clear. Listen 80 percent and talk 20 percent. In a situation dealing with a performance issue, do not react emotionally. Wait for an appropriate break in the employee’s work, and seek to understand why the employee did not perform. Reserve judgment until you’ve listened to his or her answers.”
- Work together to identify root causes and to brainstorm the performance improvement plan. (The Plan)
- Reinforce things the employee does well, after all, they want to be there, and that’s half the battle.
After you have decided what more you can invest and do to help this employee succeed it’s time to schedule the conversation. Let the employee know what the conversation will be about so you can both prepare. Before the meeting, write down where performance has been a problem and some options for moving forward. Preparation helps to keep the conversation on performance rather than biases or personality.
Next “Sit down and have a candid conversation with her. Acknowledge that she works hard and is receptive to feedback, but that ultimately you need someone in the role who can do X, Y, and Z without significant training and coaching. Talk about what you do see as her strengths, but explain that the job requires different ones. […]From there, you can offer her two options: She can pursue a short-term improvement plan and try to meet the bar you’re describing, with the understanding that you would need to let her go if she hasn’t met that bar at the end of, say, 4-6 weeks, or you can jointly form a transition plan that will give her time to search for another job while giving you time to look for a replacement.”
If the employee decides to choose the performance improvement plan “The two of you should come up with a plan that includes the expected results, the resources available, and the timetable. Remember SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Clear expectations are easier to communicate, meet and evaluate. Most important: follow up on schedule. Providing good direction and clear goals upfront and holding ongoing performance conversations will make your life easier and make you a better manager.”
If the employee however decides to go with the transition plan take into consideration how long their job search may take, how long finding a replacement may take, as well as if you would like the current employee to help train and transition projects. These things don’t always work on a timeline, but us them as a reference when creating the transition plan.
Managing mediocre employees reflects not only on the employee’s performance, but on the manager’s ability as well; if you have a mediocre employee, don’t be complacent, take action! If you need help with recruiting top talent or with expanding your contingent workforce, give us a call at (650)752-6193. Menlo Partners Staffing, general & administrative recruiting experts for small to mid-size employers in Silicon Valley.