How to handle an underperforming employee

As leaders, we´ve all been faced with employees that do not perform as expected. However, before confronting the issue, it´s very important for you to determine the real reason your team member is not performing well.

Generally, an employee does not perform as you would expect due to lack of ability, training and/or coaching, leadership or willingness. Three of these causes are actually within your control, as a leader. Ask yourself the following questions to identify the cause of the issue, and then determine the right solution for it.

Ability   
1. Is this the right fit for this associate? (Solution: Consider other position)
Train or coach                    
2. Have you observed the associate perform the job well in the past? (Solution: Train or coach)
3. Has the associate received training and on-the-job coaching to do the job successfully? (Solution: Train or coach)
4. Are my expectations crystal clear? (How do I know?) (Solution: Train or coach)
5. Does the associate understand why it´s important to do the job right? (Solution: Train or coach)
6. Does the associate have the tools to do the job successfully? (Solution: Provide tools/train)
Leadership
7. Does the associate know how they´re doing; have I followed up on progress (Solution: Communicate)
8. Do I regularly recognize positive performance for this associate when appropriate (Solution: Communicate)
9. Do I show this associate that I care, and that their opinions count? (Solution: Communicate)
10. Do I hold all associates accountable equally so that everyone is committed to qualify work? (Solution: Communicate)

If you answered NO to any of the questions, you have not set the employee up for succeed. Implement the suggested solution to develop the skill in the employee, then re-evaluate for willingness.

If you answered YES to all these questions, you have done everything you can to engage the associate and know you are likely dealing with a willingness issue. Shift the responsibility for the solution to the employee through counseling.

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