8 tips to handle that difficult, underperforming employee?

Upon popular request for this particular topic…..here it is. If you would like any other tips on topics, please do not hesitate to let me know and I will do my best to see if I can help.

You know the type….. that staff member that barely just does the minimum requirements, spends more time complaining about what they need to do rather than just getting the job done, that other staff members constantly complain about and that you know is going to argue or defend themselves just for the sake of any argument if you possibly try and provide any constructive feedback….then on top of that…they are also the ones who make you feel like you should be grateful that they have made the choice to work for you and damage your brand. Sound familiar? I hope not…but sadly, something I hear all too often. As an old boss once said to me….its time to kindly give them to one of your competitors.

They are the ones that you find yourself saying:-

But I don’t have time to go through a performance management process at the moment.

Im about to go on leave or who will do their job?

They can be ok….. occasionally.

Who will train them the new person or

They are the only ones who know how to….

However what you need to be asking yourself is:-

How much is the person costing me by not operating at full capacity?

How much time do you spend managing or thinking about this person’s performance? Or having to correct their work?

How would yours and other employee’s morale and productivity increase if they were not there?

Are you losing good staff as they don’t want to work with that person?

What is this person doing to your brand (not to mention your sanity)?

When you put a dollar figure on the above it is pretty scary.

Firstly, if you are saying any of the above dot points, than you may need to look at your people planning generally first (ie how can you ensure there is not one person only who knows how to do things, how can you be actively keeping an eye out on new potential people on an ongoing basis so recruitment doesn’t become such a big task or are you forward planning and scheduling leave at the best time for example).

Managing different personalities in the workplace is crucial to create a healthy and positive environment. This is not just for your own sanity but for your other employees as well.

In some recent studies, employee’s job satisfaction is most affected by the mood, attitude and cooperation of their coworkers. Increasingly scary is that almost 100% who reported they disliked their work, reported their primary aversion is to one specific coworker who is unpleasant (note the other big raters are no surprises – their immediate supervisor and boredom in their role).

So, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Perhaps the easiest thing to look at is what you can do better to get a different result (as it is highly unlikely that they will reach that decision on their own)….although, if you are reading this and the above sounds like you….do everyone a favour and either move on to somewhere where you will be happier or step it up!

Below are 8 tips to consider!

Identify exactly what it is that they are not doing – noone gets frustrated by a high performing team player so there must be things they are not doing well or to standard? The key is to articulate this clearly and measurably.

Develop a plan on how you are going to manage it. The best way to most effectively handle the problem and take out the emotion is for you to take the blame to start with by looking at whether or not there is anything else you can possibly do to improve their performance and/or stop the behaviour first.

Admit you have a problem employee and decide NOT to tolerate it any further. That in itself is a big step.

Prioritise that list of things starting from most important/biggest impact to least important/smallest impact.

Pick your top 3 big issues and articulate your minimum standards for them. Please note – it is important that these standards are ones that you will hold everyone accountable for.

Review whether you have any policies, procedures, emails, values or other communications in place that reiterate these standards. At the same time, review whether these need to be updated and/or re-communicated to ensure they are accessible and very clearly known by all.

Once you have down the above, set up a feedback session and ask if you can ‘provide some development feedback’. Alternatively, you may choose to have touchpoint interviews with everyone to take the opportunity to communicate them across the board. Note this is a chance for you to communicate 5 and 6 to your problem staff member, identify how you may support them achieve these standards and hear from them as to any issues they may have in achieving those standards.

In some cases, this may actually be the light bulb moment for a turnaround. In other cases, you may need to continue further down a performance management plan if behaviour/conduct does not improve.

While I am not going to pretend that this process is going to be fun or easy, when it is done properly with a plan, the benefits you and your organisation will receive will be well worth it.