Conducting employee performance reviews makes you aware of the term “all men are not made equal”. As the boss of a diversified workforce, you probably believe in that more than anyone else. In any group, you will find overachievers and under performers. While getting rid of the latter may seem an obvious solution, it’s not necessarily the best or the right thing to do.
Often, a below par performance has more to do with external circumstances, than any inherent laziness or lack of talent in the individual. As the senior person in the organization, it is your responsibility to find out the real reasons behind the poor showing of people during employee performance reviews, and take steps to remedy the situation.
In many cases you may find that some simple changes can work wonders. The trick is to get to the bottom of things. Here is a list of the most common causes of poor ratings in employee performance reviews:
No clarity of job description: Oh, that’s just great! Say that you’re looking to deepen existing client relationships, but your sales manager believes that his priority is to recruit new clients. Obviously, you think he doesn’t do his job. This can be rectified by laying down clear job descriptions for important, if not all employees. Put down key deliverables, being as specific as possible. Once expectations are put in writing, there’s far less room for confusion.
Inadequate support or resources: You can’t blame employees for turning out a poor show if they don’t have the necessary tools. If your finance manager is doing the job of the cost accountant in addition to trying to manage her own responsibilities, you need to reward her instead of pulling her up on her slip ups! Evaluate the resource needs of your staff from time to time, and do your best to fulfill them. Sure, you can’t always satisfy all their needs, but any support from your side will result in a more motivated workforce.
Lack of training: Training is usually looked upon as a cost rather than an investment, and that’s where the problem lies. If you expect your employees to cope with the growth and increasing complexity of the business, you must make sure they have the necessary skills. Formulate a training plan and stick to it. Let the results speak for themselves.
External distractions: Imagine writing a strategy paper if the neighboring building is undergoing repairs. Or sitting in an area adjoining the copier station! Outside factors such as noise, excessive heat or even a disruptive neighbor can reduce the most capable people to under performers. Fortunately, this situation can usually be easily remedied (except in the case of the latter) with some rearrangement.
Personal issues: What do you do when a top performer suddenly slacks off? Sit down with her or him and probe gently, taking care not to seem too interfering. Personal problems do get in the way of performance, and if you have the patience to wait it out, your under performer will soon return to his or her winning ways.
Managing people with low scores during employee performance reviews is a difficult, yet essential task. Make sure that you do what is fair, else you might just be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.