December 24, 2010

Handling Poor Performers

A poor performer is probably the worst nightmare for any manager. The amount of energy any manager needs to spend to cover up for a poor performer could be enormous. The poor performer may be a very nice person otherwise but doesn't seem to have the competence or the drive to perform the assigned tasks to the required degree of satisfaction.

Identifying Poor Performers

At times poor performers may hide for years altogether but may find themselves exposed in case of organizational changes like takeovers, recessionary conditions, new supervisor, etc. The most crucial question that challenges any manager when faced with a poor performer is how to communicate in clear terms to the concerned employee: "shape up or ship out".

Shaping Up Poor Performers

Coaching, mentoring, providing opportunities, feedback sessions, tough messages and much more can be done to help the poor performer "shape up". However, these methods don't work beyond a certain extent. If the concerned employee lacks in fundamental or functional competencies and has no drive to improve himself or herself the above methods will not work.

Shipping Out Poor Performers
 
It is always a tough decision for any manager to let go a person reporting to him or her. The decision to communicate the concerned employee to "ship out" is probably the toughest for any manager, even tougher than answering the questions from executive management. The manager would always tend to think of the impact the letting go decision will have on the concerned employee and his/her family both emotionally and financially. At the same time continuing with the poor performer with no improvement in sight for days and weeks altogether may be dangerous to the manager himself or herself and to the organization eventually.

Shipping Out is Not the End of the Road

All said and done the "ship out" decisions cannot be completely ruled out in an organization. At the end performance matters and is needed by an organization to stay competitive and to survive and grow. These decisions must be taken albeit in a sensitive manner as the poor performer is a human being and deserves to be respected as such. And it very much the case that the poor performer may use the "ship out" opportunity to do something different he or she is really good at and highly motivated to do. Given the right opportunity it's possible that the poor performer may turn into a "high performer".

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