Shape up or Ship out!
I recently came across a note about whether to invest time in turning around a non-performing employee, or just ask them to leave.
And it set me thinking, how dependent a lot of us are, on our managers. I remember reading a research report about how our first job experience sets us up for life, and the crucial role our first manager plays in our life. Get the right kind of guy and you’re set. Get the wrong ‘un and you’re in trouble! Not me, that’s what the research said!
So hey, coming back to the Q we began with. What should a manager really do, when faced with an employee who isn’t delivering.
First up, to share my experience of having worked with, trained, coached over 1000 people in the 18 odd years that I have been working. I have yet to recall even ONE, who had malintent, or who didn’t want to do a good job. Each one of us, when we wake up in the morning, want to go out there, and be known for something, want to be acknowledged, want to leave a mark, want to do a good job!
The guy who works for you, he thinks the same. Your boss (the lazy bum!) he thinks the same. That woman who sits at that desk, diagonally across from you? Same thoughts!
So as soon as you encounter someone who isn’t performing. Remember the above. Remind yourself, that everyone WANTS to do a good job. So what are the various reasons that might be affecting your guy? Read on:
1. Goals, role clarity, expected outcomes – Does this person know what is expected of him/her? Do they have a clarity of what their role entails? What are their role boundaries? What they will be measured on, every month? What you expect from them? Is this clear to them? That’s a good place to start. Very often, just fixing this, will improve performance.
2. Fit for role – Assess. Does this person have the relevant skills or capabilities to do the role? If not, then does this person have some transferable skills that will enable them to do this role? If NOT, can they be quickly trained/coached? If this will take a long time, do you have the time? If yes, great. If not, then find a role that fits this person, and you will see them perform
3. Motivation/Will – Many times, in spite of everything else being in place, an individual is just not motivated to perform. There could be severals reasons – maybe they just lost someone, maybe they’re having a rough time at home, maybe they have some other problems. A demotivated employee requires nurturing, counselling, and some bit of regular monitoring. If however, you find yourself at a loss to turn this around, seek professional help, talk to HR. If you have a counselor coming in at work, refer this person. Finally if nothing else works, take a call.
4. Resources – Is this person adequately resourced? Does this person have the manpower, technology, tools, dollar allocations, travel permissions etc. to enable him/her to deliver?
5. External environment – Are there things in the external environment that are disabling performance? Is the market bad? Has competition come up with something that is a step change?
6. The ACID TEST! Is it ME? – Is your style? Your ability to lead? Ability to direct? coming in the way of motivating this individual? Have you provided adequate direction? Are you there for him/her, the way they need? This one is probably the most difficult for any manager to do. But it is a possibility!
Once you have gone through all these possible scenarios, will you have a clear fix on what you as a manager/mentor/coach need to do, in order to help this person perform. And you know what? My own experience tells me that if you follow these steps, 95% of the time you won’t be asking anyone to leave. It’s worth it!
As managers, our key role is to Support, Coach, Seek to understand AND Work to make the incumbent succeed. Don’t test your team-members, help them to get A’s!
Hope this helps! And would love to have you share your experiences with managing teams. Please leave your thoughts/comments.
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