This article is about a very real problem faced by many professionals – how to deal with almost problem employees and has 4 tips on how to make performance management simpler. But first – my rant…traffic jam as a metaphor for performance management

The performance management problem on our roads

At long last, the tailgater and the middle lane hog are going to be dealt with, ridding our roads of these pests? Do they drive you mad too?

My reading of today’s BBC News article, is that the only reason I’ve had to put up with people that drive up and down the motorway in the middle lane, at times tailgating – is because it’s been too complex to deal with them before. But all that’s about to change!

Have these drivers driven you mad for ages and left you wondering why nobody ever deals with this frustrating, and dangerous practice? It’s certainly always annoyed me.

You may be wondering what tailgaters have to do with improving the performance of your firm. The answer is improving performance management and dealing with poor performance more effectively.

The performance problem in your firm.

A conversation I recently had (and it’s repeated far too often, in too many firms) was that “Freddie” had been underperforming, again. He hadn’t been responding to clients quickly enough and had quietly hidden a couple of mistakes.

The really annoying thing was that things were not quite bad enough warrant the effort of dealing with them, so proper performance management wasn’t happening.

How many employees have you seen like that? They don’t quite get dealt with, because it’s too much hassle, or you don’t have the time and it’s easier to just correct the problem.

The real performance problem in your firm.

You’re thinking it’s a problem for you as Freddie doesn’t really deal with all of his clients quickly enough, you’re right. Does it lose you clients? Well, possibly, but maybe not.

The real problem of not dealing with poor performance (and I’m not talking about the diabolically bad, but the not quite good enough) is that everybody else gets used to it and accepts it. Just like the middle lane drivers, suddenly it’s ok to perform in the same way. Haven’t you noticed how one car in the middle lane, leads to two, then three….. It’s the same with poor performance management at work, suddenly more of your staff aren’t performing. Now you do have a problem!

Not only that, there is a loss of your credibility – as your team think less of you. If you worry about your credibility in front of your team – click here

Dealing with the poor performers, more quickly.

Do keep meaning to, but never have the time? Then you’re like the police, who don’t want the hassle of going to court. What’s the equivalent of a fixed penalty notice for you? How can you make it simpler?

Performance management for the not quite bad enough is as important as the really big, obvious stuff!

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Four tips for improving your performance management.

Clear objectives: It’s very hard to perform well if it’s not clear what is expected of you. Ensure that your team are clear what is, and isn’t expected in their roles. This step alone will often change things.

  1. See the real problem: Recognise that something that you let go today will continue to get worse in that one person and will spread to others. Once you realise that it’s a bigger problem, you’re more likely to deal with it.
  2. Deal with it quickly : That doesn’t mean a huge show, ensure that you highlight that something is unacceptable and what they need to do about it.
  3. Deal in facts: Remove the personal comments, or extreme adjectives form your head before you even think about commenting to them.
  4. It doesn’t have to be formal: Formal disciplinary procedures are really important, but sometimes it’s simply about ensuring somebody knows. Assuming that it’s not regular or critical, that may be all that’s needed.

You may like to also read performance management tips, or if you’d like to download a report to help you improve your team’s performance  , it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

One other thought, that makes a HUGE difference

Make sure you find something good in their behaviour, regularly and tell them – publicly. Discipline in private, praise in public.

What extra tips would you add?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access