When you have a team that’s running on all cylinders, it feels great. Your business hums along and everything is easier. But when you have that one employee who is just not performing, it can put a damper on everything. It’s harder to get momentum going for your business. Your confidence as a leader drops, which means you don’t close deals like you used to. It affects everything.
So what do you do? How do you handle that underperforming team member? We asked several business owners to see what their approach would be.
Assess the Situation
“I like to sit down with the employee to establish what the situation is. I point out the problem, offer words of encouragement, and let them know the business is counting on them. We are interested in their success and want to help, not just drive their performance numbers. I ascertain if there is something more they need from us and give them time to remedy the situation. Finally, I make a decision one way or the other. Prolonging this situation affects the morale of other employees.”
– Jim Newton, Philip James Salon
“It depends on the employee. First, we would look and try to see why they are not performing. If it is because they do not understand what is expected of them, their manager would review what is expected of them. Sometimes an employee needs a review and they become an asset to our company. Sometimes an employee does not work out in one department, but can work somewhere else, so if that is the case, we will give them a try answering phones or working in the store. If all else fails, sometimes an employee is just not a good fit for the company. If that is the case, it is better for both the employee and the employer to part ways sooner rather than later. Although it is not pleasant, eventually, it is better to do the right thing for your company and for the employee.”
– David Cohen, Moshells
Ensure They Have the Tools to Succeed
“My first inclination is reflection…have I provided the employee with the proper orientation, training, information to achieve the objective? If not, I make every effort to rectify the situation. If this isn’t the case, I speak opening and candidly with the employee, set dates with deliverables and monitor progress.”
– Mary Rownd, Interactive Project Manager, HIMSS
“Coach them. When someone is not performing, my first question is always to myself. “Have I trained them, given them all the tools and time to be successful?” Only after I have satisfied these questions will I consider a performance plan to set targets to help get them back on track.”
– Jeff Purtell, Chief Operating Officer, Acquirent
“Communication between employees and supervisors is always key in having a solid working relationship; doing it well gives the manager an opportunity to inspire and lead a team. At InterCall, we have a workforce that is all over the world, so oftentimes, employees and their supervisors are not in the same office. We use tools like audio, video and web conferencing, along with web cams, to put faces to names and voices. It really helps to establish and build a rapport, which enhances performance and allows you to do more coaching.”
– Rob Bellmar, Senior Vice President, Conferencing and Collaboration, InterCall
So, there are several approaches to handling an underperforming employee from business owners across industries. How do you handle it? What’s been effective for you?
About the Author: Brad Farris is the founder of EnMast, a community of business owners committed to being better leaders and growing better businesses. He is also principal advisor of Anchor Advisors, with experience leading businesses & business owners into new levels of growth and success. Through his work with over 100 Chicago area small businesses he has experience in guiding founders and business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. Connect with him on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.