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Initiate open dialogue, turn around poor performance

Though you try to choose people with similar experience and skill sets to form your team, you notice that not all of them perform at the same level. While most of them meet your expectations, there are a few who consistently exceed expectations and give out a superlative performance. While these people make your job easy, you have to frequently contend with people who belong to the other extreme too. Yes, these are the poor performers who cause frustration to you day in and day out.

These are the people who appear less motivated and less energetic. They are less likely to go beyond the call of duty or accept higher responsibilities. They are often less innovative and hardly come up with any ideas and suggestions. In a bid to turn around their performance you tend to tighten the controls but what do you see? Instead of showing signs of improvement their performance slips from bad to worse.

Why does this happen? Research indicates that micromanaging is not in the least helpful to improve productivity. The best method however is to objectively analyse the situation and initiate an open dialogue with the weak performers to bring about necessary changes.

Most often managers themselves create their own poor performers. When things are not going too well, the employees cannot be held solely responsible for the situation. To an extent you are at fault too. You may unknowingly trigger the phenomenon of poor performance yourself. For example an employee misses the deadline a couple of times. His poor performance annoys you and you begin to closely monitor his work. Suspecting your reduced confidence, the employee starts doubting himself.

He avoids taking decisions and stops putting in his best efforts. You consider his behaviour as an evidence of mediocrity and further tighten the controls.

But what you fail to realise is that your behaviour does not improve matters but only makes them worse. When employees are not given adequate freedom they lose their motivation to work hard. Their enthusiasm gets completely drained when you turn hypercritical and stop expressing your confidence in them. They grow defensive and avoid contact with you. They respond mechanically to your controls and stop volunteering ideas and information.

Continuous monitoring of these team members is a drain on your energy too. You lose lot of precious time and also fail to focus on other important activities. Team spirit suffers too when some of the members continuously dole out sub par performance. But there is definitely a way out of this mess. Here are some steps you can initiate to rebuild the confidence of a low performer: Call the employees for a one-to-one discussion.

Choose a neutral, non-threatening location preferably outside the office. Convey that you intend to reduce the tension in your relationship through the meeting. Initiate an open dialogue with him by acknowledging that you may be partially responsible for the situation.

Discuss both strengths and weaknesses of the employee in the meeting. You must support your assessments with facts and not feelings. For this you must do some prior homework. First of all you must challenge your own perceptions and assumptions in order to objectively evaluate the employee. Think over if he is really that bad after keeping your emotions aside.

Check if you both agree on priorities. Identify if any skill gaps are hindering good performance. Also find out how your behaviour impacts him.

Once you know what is affecting performance, you can easily identify means to improve it. When you express a strong commitment to improve matters it becomes easier for you to secure cooperation of the employee in this regard. Let him decide on the type of feedback and supervision he needs as well as training to overcome skill gaps.Agree to always keep the channels of communication open. Convey that you welcome new ideas, suggestions and also their feedback.

Open dialogue with employees helps you to quickly identify the real causes of low performance and reverse the phenomenon as well. So, go ahead and get the best out of every employee.


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