There’s nothing more frustrating than managing employees that simply aren’t performing up to the level you expect. But while there are a variety of different reasons employees might not measure up, each one requires a different approach — and it’s up to you as an owner or manager to learn the difference.
Here are seven reasons your employees aren’t meeting your expectations, as well as what you should do about it:
Poor Job Fit
The problem: It’s an unfortunate reality that many companies see employees who are technically proficient and assume that they’d make great managers for their departments. In fact, technical expertise and supervisory skills are entirely different, resulting in many technicians finding themselves feeling overwhelmed by their new roles.
What to do: This is a case where a new job placement is best. If you can find a way to put these workers in a senior technical assignment rather than a managerial role, they’ll be happier and function at a much higher level.
Lack of Training
The problem: In today’s busy business environment, many workers find themselves in a “sink or swim” position. They have to learn on the job, leaving them to either succeed or fail on their own. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to learn on the fly, and some employees that’d be great under other circumstances will underperform due to lack of training.
What to do: Offer additional training to those who seem to be struggling. Be sure that it’s offered in a way that doesn’t embarrass them in front of colleagues, and in an environment away from the fast pace of their daily job. They’ll likely be grateful for the chance to improve and begin to perform better quickly.
The problem: Some people just don’t like to look on the bright side of situations in order to find a positive solution. People who are miserable can affect the whole team or department, bringing the morale of the entire office down with them.
What to do: You can try something light-hearted, like putting them in charge of the positive quote of the day. But in the end, if you can’t change their attitude, you may need to let them go. A person like this can drive off your good employees if you don’t act quickly.
The problem: A daily manager can make or break an employee or team. Some managers simply don’t expect much — of their staff or of themselves. Other managers are overbearing taskmasters, who take the joy out of daily work in order to have their own egos boosted. Still others simply aren’t competent at the skills of management, despite finding themselves in these job roles.
What to do: If you see that your manager is simply a bad fit, move them to a new position (as in the case of the first issue listed above). On the other hand, if the manager is expecting too little or is being overbearing, they’ll need to be coached for their own improvement. As they improve, the employee or team that’s underperforming will generally improve as well.
The problem: Sometimes, employees underperform for reasons that have nothing to do with the company. A sick family member, a divorce, or other personal problems may be affecting their life, making it hard to function at a high level anywhere, including at work.
What to do: If your company has access to an employee assistance program, refer them there. Or if the employee has friends at work, you can encourage those friends to boost the other employee up and encourage better work. In some cases, though, you have to make the decision to either ride out the storm and hope they improve in the future, or to let the employee go if you don’t expect their performance to bounce back in a timely fashion.
Poor Equipment or Software
The problem: Some companies, in an effort to save money, use old equipment or refuse to upgrade their software. Unfortunately, this can directly impact the ability of employees to do their job at a high level. It can also diminish morale, potentially leading to dissatisfied workers and bad reviews on sites like Glassdoor (which can jeopardize future recruiting efforts).
What to do: If you have control of the company’s finances, choose to invest in the success of your staff. If you have to ask someone above you, do so — and be persistent until you succeed. If you encounter resistance, try to translate your request into metrics your higher-ups can appreciate. For example, if a new CRM means that your salespeople can cut their administrative tasks in half, that’s 50% more time they could be spending reaching out to new leads.
The company will have a much brighter future if employees are properly equipped to do their jobs.
Lack of Big-Picture Understanding
The problem: Employees often do their best work when they understand what purpose they’re working toward. If your company lacks overall direction, or if the direction is not clearly communicated to your team members, you may see underperformance as a result.
What to do: Make sure that the big-picture vision of the company is communicated to your staff, and that they understand the crucial role they play in the company’s success. It’s also helpful if that success matters to employees, either through the implementation of a financial incentive or some other motivation (like a company lunch or afternoon off).
People don’t come to work planning to underperform. If they aren’t meeting your expectations, there’s always an underlying reason, and the seven listed above represent the most common issues. As soon as you see an issue, do some sleuthing. With quick, corrective action, performance should improve quickly.
In your experience, what are some of the other drivers of poor performance? Share your examples — as well as how you handled them — in the comments below: