Managing Underperformance

I am sure that every manager worth his or her salt has at some time had to confront the challenge of managing someone who is under performing.  So what is the first thing that you do:

  1. Collect evidence of under performance;
  2. Start to define the expected performance and look at ways to coach the person to close the gap;
  3. Avoid the issue and leave it for the annual review?

Well  the first two of these are pretty good options.  The third is probably the most common – and usually disastrous for all concerned – the manager, the employee, the organisation and the customer.

There is a better place to start the process of managing under performance and that is to ask ‘Do we really understand this person’s strengths?  Are we using them in a role that plays to them?’  Instead of putting the spotlight immediately on them, this gives us a chance to reflect on whether we really understand the person involved.  Are we really giving them the best possible chance to succeed?

This allows us to consider the option of developing the persons role so that the under performance simply goes away.  As Jim Collins puts it – it is about getting the right people, on the right seats on the bus.

Playing to peoples’ strengths rather than trying to ‘coach’ around their weaknesses is a fundamental characteristic of high performing teams.  Are you doing all you can to allow your employees to use their strengths?  Are you setting them up with an opportunity to win?

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