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Tips to manage underperforming employees

Great companies are often regarded as only being as good as their staff, so getting rid of the bad apples, or encouraging them to take a different motivational outlook on work, is crucial for managers.

The big question manager’s face is how should you manage underperforming staff? Unfortunately, there is no one ‘magic tablet’ that will ensure that all staff instantly achieve ideal performance targets – but there are simple and effective management strategies that can help.

The EI Group believes there are specific reasons that employees are underperforming, including:

  • Failure to understand and engage with the greater purpose of the business;
  • Not knowing what they should be doing or what they are expected to do, and the consequences for the organisation;
  • Not clearly understanding what the consequences of non-performance for him or herself will be;
  • No clear objectives or time frames;
  • Not having the required skill set;
  • Accountability for poor performance is not being enforced;
  • Not being rewarded or recognised for good performance;
  • Being obstructed by inefficient processes;
  • Work which does not address the need for challenges or being creative; and
  • Lack of personal motivation to perform optimally.

According to El Group CEO Ben Thompson, underperforming staff often have a negative effect on staff and client service.

“One of the keys to managing underperforming staff is to focus on the reasons of underachievement, and tailoring the performance management techniques to suit the issues.”

With this in mind, the EI Group offers the following six tips to performance manage underperforming staff:

1. Use progressive discipline. Focus on helping employees understand that their performance is not up to standard and help them be aware through regular feedback and the impact of their performance
2. Keep records, of your informal and formal discussions, to demonstrate your attempts to improve the situation. Managers should have a performance management system checklist to refer to
3. Issue appropriate warnings. It may be difficult to prove that an employee is underperforming if they have been doing the same job for a long time without criticism or warning, it is important to highlight what is expected of them in all instances
4. Provide opportunities to improve. Keep your employees skills fresh and up to date by providing appropriate training and support
5. Assess your management style. Any good manager audits their own performance. Managers should ask themselves, ‘Am I managing performance in the right way? Am I able to offer guidance, good communication and a clear understanding of the implications of non-performance?
6. Make sure you comply with the Fair Work Act. Ensure you are fair to the employee and comply with Fair Work Act laws and disciplinary procedures in the case of dismissing them. Get expert advice if you are in any way unsure what constitutes a fair disciplinary procedure.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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