Partner Corner: Managing Poor Performers

By: Sarah Crotty

Subpar employees are hard to handle, but these strategies may turn their behavior around.

Performance management can be pushed aside by business leaders for variety of reasons: They don't have time to deal with problematic employee behavior, they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, or perhaps they don't know how to deliver feedback to employees.

Employees putting forth subpar effort on the job can be costly to a business financially and detrimental to employee and company morale. Poor performers cannot improve their performance unless performance expectations have been outlined clearly.

Following are some tips and suggestions for managing poor performers:

  • Utilize job descriptions. Accurate job descriptions are essential tools that must be in place to effectively manage poor performance.
  • Be specific. Provide examples of the employee's problematic behavior.
  • Provide timely and continuous feedback.
  • Outline expectations and consequences if performance does not improve. Managers must state the specific behavior that is unacceptable and provide suggestions and methods for improvement.
  • Check for understanding. After communicating the message, ensure that the employee understands what has been said.
  • Document conversations and expectations. It is essential to document all performance-management conversations.
  • Follow up after the performance-management conversation.
  • Set an example. If an employee fails to meet reasonable performance expectations after all of the actions above are carried through, consult with your legal counsel regarding disciplinary steps—up to and including termination.

Sarah Crotty, PHR, is an HR administrator for Mercer Single Source 1. Email Mercer: [email protected]