Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018.
Sign up for free email newsletters and get more SHRM content delivered to your inbox.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 14 cities across the U.S. this fall.
Gain the skills you need to rise to the next level in your career. Jon us at SHRM's Leadership Development Forum, October 2-3 in Boston.
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Poor performers exist in every corporate office and on every factory floor. They're easy to spot: They're the ones who consistently arrive late and leave early, who fabricate excuses when things go wrong or deadlines are missed, and who cause colleagues to work overtime to fix their mistakes. What's more difficult to see is the effect of poor performers on others.
"Actively disengaged workers tend to spread discontent," says Robert Moore, CEO of The Effectiveness Connection, a consulting firm in Tampa, Fla. "The impact on profitability can be enormous." That impact on the bottom line comes in the form of lowered productivity and morale-and increased turnover because high achievers leave when managers tolerate mediocrity, says Francie Dalton, president of Dalton Alliances Inc., a consulting firm in Columbia, Md. "But mediocre performers will remain because they know they're safe. The entire organizational culture, along with its reputation in the marketplace, can be affected by poor performers."
Dick Grote, author of
Discipline Without Punishment (AMA, 1995) and president of Grote Consulting Corp. in Addison, Texas, adds, "The poor performer is not only making the supervisor's life miserable, he is also making the other employees miserable. When a supervisor turns a blind eye, it's a slap in the face to all of the good people who don't have the ability to do something about the situation."
Firing poor performers may seem like the best solution; however, experts say it's actually more cost-effective to invest time in employees who are performing poorly if they can be rehabilitated. But many managers either ignore the problem or fire the poor performer without attempting other solutions. These managers fall into three camps, says Jim Gulian, partner for Seattle-based MPCFilms, a media production company that creates training videos such as
Painless Performance Improvement. They are:
1. Begin counseling early on.
The time for action is when you first detect a problem with performance, and you should document every major discussion in case it is needed for future disciplinary action. Frequent, specific feedback is the key to keeping underperforming employees on track. "Often, the greatest hurdle is the inability of the line manager to accept there is a performance problem," says Bob Manuel, partner at Charter Solutions, a training consultancy in Lancaster, England. "Taking the first step to counsel poor performers is often the most difficult step for a newly appointed manager."
2. Find the root cause. Is the employee failing because of a lack of skills, poor work ethic or a bad attitude? Or is there some non-work-related problem, such as illness, substance abuse or loss of a loved one? If so, inform employees of programs available to deal with these problems (i.e., your company's employee assistance program), so they can seek advice. If there aren't extenuating circumstances, focus on the ways in which the employee is failing-make professional observations, not personal ones-and create an improvement plan.
3. Give constructive criticism.
"Managers are reluctant to confront employees because they don't know how," says Grote. He recommends that managers follow this script:
Download MS-Word Version
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
CA Resources at Your Fingertips
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies