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Dealing with Poor Employee Performance

How do managers decide how and when to deal with poor employee performance?

It’s Much Easier To Polish an Apple

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Being a manager is simple — just like losing weight is simple! Of course, anyone who has ever tried either task and done their job well knows that both take hard work. Also (similar to losing weight), managing people is a skill, one that must be learned. Managers daily face the task of dealing with difficult employees. They must deal with employees who are habitually tardy, absent, unable to perform assigned work, or who display behavioural problems.

Employees: How do managers decide how and when to deal with poor employee performance by John Farr, presents problems managers face in the workplace and introduces a six step coaching approach that can eliminate many of these problems.

These steps are:

  1. Gather and verify performance information.
  2. Verify with the employee whether the information gathered is true.
  3. Discuss with the employee whether it is a problem caused by the company or himself
  4. Ask the employee for possible solutions.
  5. Evaluate these solutions and plan an implementation time schedule.
  6. Monitor the employee’s progress and give feedback to correct and/or to reinforce the employee’s actions.
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Other things discussed in the article are human nature and its influence on employee behaviour, and how behavioural modification can be used in the workplace.

This article could be useful in handling some workplace situations; the author, however, failed to mention that the intervention model only works if three key principles are followed:

1) take corrective, not punitive, actions;

2) counsel and coach before using discipline;

3) be firm, be fair, and show that you care.

In addition, before exploring how to handle difficult employees, the author should have addressed the key responsibility of a manager. A manager is someone who has to work with others to get the job done and achieve results. In other words, someone who is responsible for the behaviour and work produced by each individual employee.

Therefore, the first step, before handling any problem employee situation, is to recognize that managers share in the responsibility of each employees’ performance. Until this fact recognized, one cannot begin to resolve employee performance problems.

It’s all about improving performance, working to be firm, to be fair, and to show that you care. Most employees want to know when they are doing something wrong, to see their performance improve.

The person who has the greatest influence on an employee’s performance is the manager. If the manager thinks the employee is hopeless, then most likely worse, not better, performance will occur (self-fulfilling prophecy). Improvement is the most desirable result of a manager’s efforts and most people want and try to do a good job.

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As a manager, the longer you wait to address a performance problem, the harder it will be to deal with it constructively. Managers need to let employees know while the problem is small in scope and work with them to correct the situation (management-by-corrective-intervention).

The approach to a problem employee situation should be in a positive and constructive manner (management-by-corrective-intervention), follow the six steps mentioned by the author, to be firm, to be fair, and to show that you care. The key is to not let the employees become problems and remember that it’s much easier to polish an apple than to peel the specs off the rotten apple.

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Dealing with Poor Employee Performance. (2021, Jan 30). Retrieved October 7, 2022, from