Dealing with low performance as a manager

This week I was speaking to be common is “moving problem people around”. As in, low performers are simply moved around a business – rather than managers dealing with the problem.

I remember a talk about 5 years ago where a high flying exec said they’d done the same thing when moving tory.

Let’s jump into it.

Communication is something other people do – so it’s your fault if they “don’t get it”

When people don’t “get a message” the problem isn’t them, it’s the person delivering it. Communication is something the listener does – and if they don’t understand something…’s the fault of the sender, not the receiver. We cover this in great depth in the Communication Super Power course.

You’re not solving the problem

Moving people around is merely moving the problem.

Where do all these people go? Do they all end up in the same team? Is there some really low performing team somewhere that people get moved to?

The reality is, moving people around is based on the assumption that you cannot deal with low performance and/or remove someone from the business. This is simply not true – it does, however, require good management.

Here’s how to deal with low performance (simplified):

  1. Give regular feedback to the person about their behaviours. Not about them, or your opinion, but about the very behaviours that make you think they are performing below the bar.
  2. Talking of which – have you expressed, clearly, what the high bar is and what is expected from them? I often find that simply explaining how they are dropping below what’s expected is enough. Trust me, most people who appear towards.
  3. Take and keep copious notes of performance conversations, feedback and coaching plans. Keep these records should you need to be pretty, formal or digital – just notes. Keep them. You may need them.
  4. Build a coaching plan that consists of resources, material, opportunities and learning plans that will help them get to retain them, right?)

If, given the high standard and a coaching plan, they don’t meet the high bar, then ensure you’re giving them plenty of feedback. Keep track of all performance conversations, all feedback and all coaching plans. Keep working with them. Keep trying. And keep coaching. Open a conversation with HR and explain how you’ve given feedback, provided coaching and are working with a plan.

Work with HR to help a manager, if you’ve been doing the right thing; coaching, feedback, support.

The way to think about this;

If you remove this person from the business imagine the carnage you’ll bring to their lives.

They have bills, families and a life. It’s not something to avoid talking about performance and doing what is right for the business. Firing is failure of everybody involved. Go carefully and empathetically.

Let removing someone from the business be the last resort. But don’t avoid this process and simply move people around – it helps no-one. The business deserves better than this. The employee deserves more. And so towards.

Honestly, 99.9% of the time most people have simply never been told that they are not meeting the bar (or they don’t even know what the bar is). Start there and move forward.

Solving problems grows businesses

Solving problems in their entirety is the number 1 way to unblock systemic problems and move the business forward.

Not passing the burden to unblock systemic problems and move the business forward.

These two concepts apply to processes, rules, work, the system and of course, people.

Solve the problem in its entirety by helping to other people or managers. Fix performance issues don’t pass the burden.

Good managers own their own problems and solve them in partnership with others (like HR and other managers). They don’t pass the burden. And they certainly don’t move under performing people around to avoid dealing with low performance.

Work on the system (and your high performers too)

But remember this.

You should spend the majority of your time with your high performers. They are the ones you don’t want to fix systemic issues (rules, process, communication, flow of work) and then spend the remaining time split between high and low performers, with an over index on your high performers.

In my experience most “under performers” have never been to stay alive.

Performance is an ongoing process and it requires active participation of managers and leaders, not moving people around because it’s to deal with the performance short fall.

Management is hard, but that’s why we signed up to someone else 🙂

To read more of our blogs on management click here and to read more works from our contributing author click here.

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