Many of our clients, at one time or another, find themselves in a situation where they have an employee who should be let go and yet, they take no action.
Problems include unacceptable performance, poor attendance, a negative attitude or lack of congruence between the manager’s primary operating style and the functional preferences of the employee.
The longer the manager holds on to that employee, thereby condoning their incompetence, the harder it will be to take action. Meanwhile, the entire work unit suffers because they must make up for the performance deficiencies of the problem employee.
This is so true:
It is not the highest performer that establishes the standard of performance. Rather, it is the poorest performer who management allows to remain part of the work unit, who establishes the standard of performance.
So why do we condone it?
1. We feel a need to be loved and accepted.
Everyone wants to be popular with their employees but when the primary goal is to be loved and accepted by them, our management style becomes predominately based on emotion and not logic. This inevitably compromises the objectivity of our decision making process.
Aim for a style which balances logic and emotion so decisions remain objective – both are necessary and essential skills to have as a manager but be selective as different situations could call for more of one or the other.
2. We hope the problem will go away, if we ignore it.
Ignoring a problem is rarely an approach to take in solving it. By avoiding what we need to do we build up a wall between ourselves and the problem employee, making it all the harder to acknowledge the problem.
Reflect on why the problem is being avoided.
Play through the scenarios of what could go wrong and keep asking "and then what?" Doing this brings fears to the surface and tests their validity or likelihood. By working through our worries we often realise that the problem may not be as bad as we imagined. This way we free up essential mental energy needed to move into solving the problem.
3. We lack the willingness or ability to confront others.
Continuous two-way communication is essential to avoiding unpleasant and highly charged confrontations and also makes it easier to talk about behaviour or performance which is not in line with our expectations.
Approach the conversation in a respectful and open manner - clearly stating the problematic behaviour in observable terms, how it affects you and what you would like to see instead. Avoid statements which generalise or use judgements - instead describe the behaviour, actions or results in specific, objective terms to keep the conversation grounded in facts.
4. We lack objective performance standards and measurement on which to base a proper decision.
In the absence of performance standards and measurement, both the manager and the employee for the most part, are working blind. Performance cannot be measured objectively, and we cannot properly communicate with the employee when performance problems develop.
Often times, this can be so unclear, the employee works in ignorance without being aware of any issues so a conversation around this comes as a complete surprise.
To make sure we are not in this situation, we can ask ourselves:
"Do my employees clearly understand, in objective, performance based, job related terms, what is expected of them on a daily basis?"
If the answer is anything other than an absolute "YES", we have work to do! By rectifying this though, we are well on our way to reducing incompetence.
Our very first priority as a manager is to establish and then clearly communicate job related performance standards which are completely objective. Establish this before starting the hiring process. This way the employee knows exactly what is expected right from the first interview.
Then, by keeping the lines of communication open, facing challenges early and sticking to the clear expectations from the first interview we can certainly increase overall performance and overcome incompetence.
As always we'd love to hear from you, email me on email@example.com