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From the Bottom to the Top: How to Turn Under-performers Around
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Under-performers: We all know who they are..

The under-performers, the bottom performers, the C-players, whatever you choose to call the employees who at the end of the week have yet to finish their deliverables and aren’t hitting the minimum company performance standards.

What does this mean for you?

You have three options: let them continue under-performing, get them the training and tools they need, or let them go. With the amount of money lost in their sub-par performance and the price tag attached to replacing them, it’s safe to say training them with the tools they need is not only the easiest, but most efficient choice. You can turn employee performance around before it becomes a major problem, but all you need is a little guidance through the 5 stages of under-performance.

Stage 1: Rejection of Under-Performance

“It is really true that we learn a lot more from our failures than we ever do from our successes…”

Honestly, the poor performance discussed during the performance appraisal shouldn’t be a surprise to your employee. In fact, as Sharlyn Lauby explains, the only time employees are rather resistant or complain about their performance review is really only if it came as a surprise to them. Instead, check in regularly with your team alert them to problems in their work (as well as successes) so they have an idea before the performance review.

Stage 2: Develop Goals with the Manager

What’s your responsibility in this poor performance? As a manager, leader of your team, you need to be able to assess the specific areas in which performance wanes for your employees and develop goals to overcome these skills deficiencies. However, only half of managers are effective at working with employees to set appropriate performance goals for individual performance. Your goal in performance management is to develop these objectives with your poor performing employees.

Stage 3: Acceptance of Poor Performance

It’s difficult for your employees to come to the realization they’ve been under-performing for the past couple of months. Whether this is something they realize on their own or a revelation they find out during the next performance review doesn’t affect the gravity of this situation. You need to be able to guide them through their probationary period with the goals and tools they need to succeed.

Stage 4: Developing Skills with New Tools

“Provide [employees] opportunities to improve. Keep your employees’ skills fresh and up to date by providing appropriate training and support.” – Ivan Luizio Magalhães, Specialist & Evangelist in Business Process and IT Improvement, Telefônica Brasil

It may not be a matter of poor employee performance, it could be something out of their control, i.e. training, that’s causing their subpar work. As part of the goal development in the previous stage, give employees access to the tools and training they need in order to remedy their behavior.

Stage 5: Overcoming Under-performance

After you’ve addressed and accommodated for poor performance and subsequently dealt with it through goal development and training, you and your struggling employee stand a real chance in overcoming under-performance. With just a little time, and some extra training, you can turn them from bottom to top performer. In the event this doesn’t ameliorate the situation, your next option is finding an employee who can get it done.
Turning performance around for the problem employees isn’t always the easiest. You’ll have to help guide them through the five stages of under-performance. Although they may not be receptive to the idea of under-performance at first, through the right training and goal development, you’ll be able to help them overcome poor performance and rise from the bottom of the performance standards to the top.

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About The Author
Chris Arringdale
Chris Arringdale is the Co-Founder and President of Reviewsnap, an online performance appraisal software that allows you to customize performance management, competencies, rating scales and review periods. Reviewsnap serves more than 1,200 customers worldwide including, Penske Racing, CubeSmart, PrimeSource and Nonprofit HR Solutions.

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