Managing Ineffective Employees
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On continually difficult issue for most managers to face is how best to manage problem employees early. Effective delegation management requires “getting the best people on the team and the wrong people off the team.” Managers of business units do not have the luxury of say coaches on a professional sports team where try-outs and pre-season camps can sort out who belongs on the team. They must continually deal with the issue of building the strongest team possible. they must manage problems in the moment.
What is the best approach to deal with employees who are not a productive member of the business unit?
First, every manager must follow the requirements of employment law and of their companies HR policies. I have heard many managers blame the regulations and company policies for tying their hands. It is true that the rules governing employee performance problems and termination create challenges. It is not true that they totally inhibit the manager from dealing with the situations of employee performance. There are three core actions that managers can adapt to their performance management that, when consistently applied, make the process workable.
- New Employee Development. this actually starts by having a very tight and effective new employee training and orientation program. This program will vary in time but should be at least 90 days in most situations. In this curriculum, the manager can make sure that the basic skills required for each employees position are not only covered but require some “testing” process to assure the required skills and knowledge have been mastered. During the new training/orientation program, the manager and key team members can also cover the culture, standards and expectations for productivity and performance. Tell new people what is expected and tell them often during the initial training. If the size of the business unit allows, have a team of 3 – 5 of the business unit’s best people evaluate the new employee’s progress and adaptation to the unit’s culture. If needed, apply re-training in any areas less than satisfactory. In small business units or companies, the manager will need to fill this role.
- When performance issues or attitudes surface, get after them right now! I really believe the biggest impediment to successful performance management is that managers hesitate or procrastinate in nipping problems right away. They may hope the problem gets better or just sweep it under the rug. Nothing poisons the business unit’s productivity more than allowing a performance problem to continue. The poor performance weakens the team and the team’s morale is hit hard. People will lose confidence in the mangers ability if problem people are not confronted. Most companies have a performance process that involves verbal and written warnings and specified time lines. The key is to start the process early and often. The top managers and leaders, those who have mastered both management skills and leadership skills, take so much pride in their business unit that they will constructively confront performance issues at the earliest sign of trouble.
- The use of Developmental Training and Mentoring are the best tools for early performance intervention. nest to the simple management skill of confronting the issues right away, there are two techniques that work early in the intervention.
Mini-training Programs for Employees
- First, a well built training program will have “mini-training programs” ready at all times in key functions of the unit’s positions. when early signs of performance issues occur, and they can be identified as “training issues”, the manager can quickly prescribe the re-training module. Evaluate training results against “must pass” standards and then closely monitor improvements. Too often this process is delayed or never happens because managers are not prepared for intervention-training.
- Second, mentoring is a great training interventions with built in evaluation. Identifying you best key people by skill and leadership attitude for mentoring assignments is a top management skill technique. At the early sign of performance issues, the manager determines the potential cause (training or attitude) and where appropriate, assigns a mentor to help the employee over-come the problem. The mentor can train, lead and report on progress as part of the evaluation. Strong bonds are developed and the employee has a role model to pattern after.
The bottom line is this. A manager who has a new employee orientation program, a quick trigger finger on addressing performance issues at the earliest sign of trouble and established developmental training and mentoring strategies will build the most productive business units. The manager of a line business unit is charged with the responsibility of getting work done through others. Any person on the team not carrying their weight or creating problems due to their attitude must be confronted immediately.
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