While the demeanor of some managers might suggest that difficult conversations are their bread and butter, in reality, they’re most likely not.
Underperformance is one of the most difficult things for anybody to manage; whether it’s the employee in question, or their direct line manager.
However, it’s something that doesn’t always result in the inevitable. Sure, it can go terribly wrong, and there are umpteen unfair dismissal solicitors who will vouch for this if it’s not managed correctly.
To ensure that you don’t fall into the above category, we have put together today’s guide. Let’s now take a look at some of the best ways you can turn around an employee who is falling below expectations.
Define what ‘underperformance’ is
The first step is to ensure that you have a clear understanding of what ‘underperformance’ actually is.
This might sound like an obvious step, but it’s one that is often overlooked.
After all, if you’re going to manage somebody’s underperformance, you need to know what it is that you’re managing.
In simple terms, underperformance is defined as falling below the expectations that have been set for an individual.
However, it’s important to note that these expectations need to be realistic, and they need to be communicated to the individual in question.
One of the best ways to do this is to check through the job description you’ve written and go from there. In some cases, your expectations might be incorrect – through no fault whatsoever of the employee in question.
Address the issue early
If you’re going to manage somebody’s underperformance, it’s important that you address the issue early.
The longer you leave it, the more difficult it will be to turn things around.
It’s also worth noting that the earlier you address the issue, the more likely it is that the employee in question will be receptive to your feedback.
If you leave it too late, they might become defensive and uncooperative, which will only make the situation worse.
Be clear about your expectations
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s important that you’re clear about your expectations.
You need to make sure that the employee in question knows exactly what is expected of them, and you need to make sure that they understand the consequences of not meeting these expectations.
In some cases, particularly if verbal methods have failed, it might be helpful to put your expectations in writing. This way, there can be no confusion about what is expected, and all parties in question have documentation to refer back to.
Avoid using ‘you’ statements
When you’re addressing an employee’s underperformance, it’s important that you avoid using ‘you’ statements (for the same reasons the dreaded ‘I’ word is never recommended).
For example, instead of saying “you’re not meeting my expectations”, try saying “I’m concerned that expectations are not being met”.
The former is likely to result in the employee in question becoming defensive, while the latter is more likely to encourage them to open up and engage in a productive conversation.