Small business owners invest a lot of time, energy, and resources to onboard employees in hopes that new hires will become long-standing, productive team members. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t work out. Occasionally, there may be an employee with a poor attitude or qualities that don’t suit the workplace culture.
However, sometimes there may be an employee who has potential but isn’t quite reaching the expected performance level. How can business owners who have hired a “diamond in the rough” get that new hire up to speed?
As you start and grow your business, you will likely encounter this situation. So, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can help underperforming employees become the team members you need them to be.
1. Don’t wait.
The longer you wait to have a conversation, the more difficult it will be to broach the topic. Employees may not even be aware that they’re not doing as well as you expect them to. The longer their underperformance continues, the longer it will have adverse effects on your business.
2. Write it down.
Document what’s lacking in their performance. But also make notes about some positive traits so that you can offer some good feedback with the not-so-good.
3. Provide specifics.
Be clear about what employees need to do to improve. For example, “We need you to pay more attention to detail” is not as clear as “We need you to double-check your math when closing out the cash register at the end of your shift.”
4. Keep emotions out of the equation.
Plan to talk with underperforming employees at a time when you can approach the topic calmly without yelling or appearing overly frustrated. Remember, you’ve decided the person is worth keeping around if they can improve in some areas; it will be counterproductive if they feel attacked.
5. Determine if external or internal factors are at play.
Ask questions. If a performance problem suddenly appears, there might be a personal situation creating distraction temporarily. Or perhaps within your company, there hasn’t been enough training, or there’s an interpersonal issue with another employee. Knowing what might be contributing to the poor performance will help you understand what can be done to get over the hurdle.
6. Get a pulse on what motivates them.
Sometimes, employees need some incentive to step up their game. It might be as simple as getting more feedback and encouragement regularly or having a discussion about what opportunities exist in the future if they excel in their position.
7. Make a plan.
After you’ve assessed underperformance situations, create a plan for getting employees to a higher performance level. Map out how training, additional practice, webinars, more constant feedback, etc., whatever you’ve determined you need to provide, will happen. Set a timeline for when you will re-evaluate performance, and explain the next steps if performance continues to be sub-par.
Provide feedback as your under-performing employees follow the improvement plan. Also, keep an open door for them to ask questions and discuss challenges.
9. Ask a SCORE mentor for guidance.
SCORE mentors provide business consultation to entrepreneurs in many industries and can provide helpful insight. Mentoring is free and can help you overcome whatever challenges you’re facing in your business. Contact us to set up a time to meet with a mentor.