Human Resources Insights
Dealing with a Valued but Under-productive Employee
For those of us who are accomplished “multi-taskers,” it can be difficult to deal with another who has their heart in the right place but lacks the focus and follow through to complete their job to your expectations. The worst part is, at least for highly motivated bosses, you may end of picking up the slack far too often and then find that you resent that you have to do so.
So what can you do for those under-productive souls that you believe have the potential, but may lack the necessary commitment, focus and follow through? The first thing you do is to begin the process of open communication by sharing the “bigger picture” - what has to be accomplished, when and why? Then you ask questions like… “Do you enjoy the work you are doing?” and “Under what conditions do you do your best work?” “Are you able to meet deadlines as assigned without extra time or assistance?” “What tools or resources could help you achieve more or do better at your work?”
It can be a challenge to speak about performance with someone who does not understand the impact of their shortfalls. You want to give them constructive feedback but have to frame it in such a way as to not offend or de-motivate them. To me, being a good boss takes a lot of finesse. It can mean that many days you walk a fine line between frustration and satisfaction.
Our greatest contributions to our staff may be our experience, patience and ability to communicate. I have always believed that the key to the successful leading of others is by example. I learned years ago to respect bosses like that because they never had to put on airs or remind me of their position or authority. They showed me and I learned from them primarily because of the great example they set.
That’s the kind of boss I want to be - one who remembers every day that we are dealing with people who have feelings, families and fears just like I do. Be humble and respectful, and never forget where you came from. In the end, it is truly our reputation that speaks louder than any other aspect of our character.
So, what are some things you can do to get them headed in the right direction? Here are a few of my ideas…
• Talk honestly about what you need to accomplish and what you expect. Help them to see the bigger picture and their importance in achieving it.
• Assign them specific tasks and provide deadlines for completion.
• Provide clear and easy to interpret instructions, including input as to what you are expecting to be achieved - the outcome.
• For individuals that are new to their position, have them show you and explain the steps or plan of attack that they will use; in this way you will know if they are on the right path.
• Make sure that you meet with them regularly and that they give you status/progress reports.
• Be prepared to continue to monitor their progress and evaluate their performance periodically.
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