Maybe you read this title, and your immediate answer is, “Yes! I do have an employee who’s under performing! What do I do about it???”
If you’ve been in a titled leadership position for long, chances are you’ve been there at some point. You have an employee you’ve invested several months’ – or maybe even several years’ – worth of training, mentoring, and time. You like the employee, and you really dislike the idea of starting over with a new employee. So instead of addressing their performance problem – you now unintentionally become part of the problem!
How? Well, the team member’s issue is what’s keeping them from adequately doing their job. However, our refusal to address the employee’s performance makes us poor stewards! By allowing company funds to continue to be invested in someone who isn’t fulfilling their job description, we’re poor stewards of the company. And by avoiding having a critical conversation with the employee because we don’t want to be uncomfortable, we’re poor stewards of leadership!
So, how can we reconcile this performance problem? Here are a few suggestions:
- Don’t let it linger. Performance issues – the leader’s and the employee’s – rarely reconcile on their own. The earlier it’s addressed, the quicker you can both move on to resolving it.
- Take ownership of your performance issue. Own up to the fact that you too have a performance problem by not addressing this challenge quickly enough, but you’re going to resolve that now as you help your employee address their own challenge.
- Have a critical conversation. Remember, the purpose of a critical conversation isn’t to create conflict. It’s to grow your people!
- Follow up. As part of your critical conversation, you should have set very clear expectations on exactly what your employee needs to do to begin living up to their job description and performance requirements. Give your employee a specific time frame in which they have to begin fulfilling their requirements and when you’ll be reconvening to discuss his progress.
We can measure our success as leaders by the success of our people. If our teammates falter, we must consider how our own actions are impacting or influencing their performance.