Whether you are stepping up into your first line management role or are an experienced team leader, managing poor performance within your department can be a tricky skill to master. Addressing underperformance requires an approach which is both tactful yet decisive and gives a clear course of action to resolve any issues.
Here are our top tips and suggestions:
Take swift action
As soon as you have any concerns regarding a staff member or an area of their work, make sure you look to address any issues as quickly as possible. Not only will this hopefully nip any problems in the bud, but it will also give the individual the best possible chance to improve and develop; be sure to approach any conversations tactfully, ask what help and support they feel that they need and offer constructive suggestions and alternative solutions.
You want to develop an open dialogue with the underperforming staff member so ensure that you are calm and give the person the chance to discuss how they feel they are dealing with a particular area of their work. Consideration should also be given as to why they are underperforming, particularly if they have a strong previous track record. Be mindful of anything which may be going on outside of work which could be having an impact and similarly consider if anything has recently changed within the team dynamic or role responsibilities.
Ensure that you are well prepared for any discussion by gathering specific examples to illustrate your concerns. The employee may or may not be aware that their performance has been below par; make sure that they are aware that the purpose of the discussion is not to discipline but to arrive at possible solutions together and ensure that they have the opportunity to respond to any concerns that you raise.
Review objectives and targets
If poor performance is relating to targets or objectives made during a previous review, consider if anything has changed which might have had an impact on the employee’s ability to achieve these. Has the business changed direction? Has a long-term absence in the team caused workload priorities to shift? Discuss what would be a realistic interim target if the overall objective currently feels too far out of reach to encourage and maintain motivation.
Set a timeframe
Put in place a realistic review programme alongside clear support tools and targets so both you and they can ensure that they remain on track.
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