People problems rarely “work themselves out”
In our Human Resources consulting practice, one of our favorite euphemisms for performance management issues is when a client tells us that they need our help because an employee “isn’t working out”. Our first response is usually, “well, tell them to go to the gym!” Kidding aside, we understand what the client means, but use this to get the client to think and speak in more specific terms. Simply put, it’s a serious matter to contemplate terminating someone’s employment, and we want to be sure that the client has thought clearly about their rationale for doing so. This is where effective performance management can help.
When clients tell us someone is “not working out”, that can mean one or more of the following:
- The employee is failing to meet production, sales, or other specific goals, or isn’t fulfilling the duties enumerated in their job description.
- The employee has violated company policies such as appearance standards, time and attendance requirements, safety policies, etc.
- The employee does not behave in a way that is appropriate for their role. They may not demonstrate appropriate customer service, teamwork, leadership, or some other trait that is necessary to do the job.
We often find that smaller businesses struggle with addressing performance issues. In many cases they do not act at all, or swing the other way and react disproportionately to the final “straw that broke the camel’s back”…which comes back to haunt them if the former employee takes action against them.
Here are the reasons we’ve uncovered why clients don’t act sooner:
- Conflict avoidant…people don’t like to be confrontational, especially face to face.
- Fearful of legal action…many of our clients are smaller companies and fear that they will inadvertently do the wrong thing that will get them into costly trouble.
- Inability to articulate exactly what the performance problem is…sometimes the client just can’t state clearly what the problem is…especially when it is behavioral based.
- Don’t have a roadmap for the process; clients may not know what to expect or have the tools to start and finish a path of corrective action to improve behavior.
- Feel like they don’t have time to manage performance…too busy…but the problems persist until something must be done about it.
In our next posting, we’ll discuss some ways for you to address performance issues in a firm, fair, and consistent manner. Check back later this week for Part Two!