Hi, I'm Mak. I'm a leadership coach for new managers who knows what it's like to be filled with overwhelm, self-doubt and terror that I’d let everyone down. My Story
Do you have a team member who is not meeting expectations?
Underperforming employees are sure to cross your path if you are in a management position. We have all had to deal with someone who is underperforming and not meeting expectations.
You might be wondering what to do and even having some anxiety about the whole situation.
I will break down a four-step framework process that I use when dealing with these situations to help my own anxiety and achieve the results I want.
Would you prefer to read rather than watch? Not to worry! You can read the blog post below.
The four steps in this framework are:
Let’s start with step one so you can learn how to handle an underperforming employee ethically and professionally.
It is entirely normal and understandable for your first reaction to an underperforming employee to be one of frustration. It can be very frustrating to have someone who isn’t doing what they are paid to do, and being put in a situation where you have to deal with this behaviour is frustrating.
With that being said, your first step is to stop and assess the situation. You don’t want to have a conversation with this person and come from an emotional place. The discussion will not be successful, productive, or reflect well on you as a leader.
Two questions to ask are, what is not happening? And Why isn’t it happening?
The question what is not happening? You want to peel back the layers like an onion. What is it that you’re seeing that you shouldn’t be seeing? What are the indicators that this employee is not meeting expectations?
For the why it’s not happening. You will want to dive into if they are trained properly for their expected task. Do they have the proper resources and support? Are they dealing with something in their personal lives? Do they even know what is expected of them?
Pausing to assess the situation before just jumping into a reaction will hopefully give you a chance to get to the root of the problem and decide your next move.
This is an important conversation, and you want it to be worth having as well as working towards a resolution.
Once you have become clear with yourself about what you expect and the changes you need to see, it’s time to talk with your team member to clarify those expectations with them.
Make sure that before you approach this person, you are confident that you can articulate what you are expecting. If you try to set an expectation but you are not crystal clear about what that expectation looks like, you will find yourself back at step one in no time.
I’ve had managers say to me that the employee should know better. It’s just common sense. While this may make the situation more frustrating for you because it is common sense to you, it obviously isn’t to this team member.
An excellent example to help put this in a bit more perspective that not everyone has the same “common sense” is that you are reading this. I’m guessing your manager has reached out to you about this underperforming employee and assumed you know how to proceed because the next steps are common sense to your manager. Now you are watching YouTube videos and reading blogs about what to do with an underperforming employee.
Always be clear about your expectations, so there is no more guessing or misunderstanding. Keep in mind that just because you spoke with this team member doesn’t mean you won’t have the same or similar conversation again in the future.
You want to be sure you are holding your team members accountable, as well as yourself.
When you set expectations for an employee, you must be sure that they hold that standard. You need to provide them with the proper resources and support they need. It’s also your job to ensure this team member has the appropriate training they need, and they have a clear idea of what is even expected of them. These are your responsibility as someone in a leadership role, as well as having follow-up conversations. These situations are never a one conversation deal.
Alan Malawi, the former president of Ford Motors, talked on his podcast about how he had a habit of calling people out in the hallway when he would pass them. He would say things like, “Hey, I talked to your last week about this thing, and I haven’t seen a change at all. We can still be friends, but you can’t continue to work here if you continue to do the things we talked about last week.”
While this isn’t my approach, I certainly admire his courage to call people out and say you need to start showing up better, or you can’t work here, to let people know that he is serious.
I believe in having these conversations several times to get your point across of what you expect and that you are not budging with your expectations. However, that doesn’t equate to endless conversations.
Hold yourself accountable to have these conversations no matter how uncomfortable it is for you or the employee. They need to know you’re serious and that your point is being made and received.
This step gets overlooked a lot because of the thought process that the underperforming employees should have been doing their job the whole time.
I like to remind my students in my New Manager Accelerator Program that you want to reinforce good behaviour.
Pointing out that you have seen the hard work they have done to meet your expectations will let them know that you see them, recognize their successes, and are proud of them. This will make them want to repeat the behaviour over and over again.
December 29, 2020