One of the frequent challenges that business owners and managers often encounter is dealing with employees that are unable to meet expectations.
Whether you’re running a traditional business, an online business, or both, you’re bound to experience this concern. Simply firing and replacing poorly performing employees is not the answer, especially if you always have such people in your team.
In any case, it’s important to learn how to deal with them before you let them go and waste more energy and resources on finding and training a replacement from scratch.
When an employee under-delivers, there’s a chance that your expectations of him or her were not conveyed clearly. The person probably got the wrong message or did not understand the instructions well.
It’s therefore important to give your employees the benefit of the doubt. Make sure that you are crystal-clear on what you expect of them. For instance, you’re working on a project together. From the very beginning, you have to clearly describe your vision and then detail the objectives and actions plans as well as the deadlines. Distribute written guidelines if you must and remind everyone to take down notes during meetings.
Most of the time, your wavelength or line of thinking is different than theirs. Hence, you need to be clear and detail-oriented at all times. What’s even better is if you ask them for feedback or clarifications, or you ask them to summarize what you’ve talked about or what’s expected of them.
On many occasions, managers and supervisors tend to assume that employees already know what’s expected. Also, because you’re so familiar with what you’re discussing, what appears to you as clear and easy to follow might not be the same for the others.
Utilizing the Power of Follow-Up
Even if you’re the boss, it’s essential to utilize the power of follow-up when it comes to tasks and submissions expected from employees. This is still a two-way relationship, which is vital to the success of your business.
Work as a team. And as the leader, it’s your responsibility to give reminders and do team and individual follow-ups. This way, you have an idea of how each person is progressing. It will also help you gain better insights into your employees’ performances and specific life situations when you have regular chats with them.
In addition, these follow-ups will push them not to dilly-dally but to ensure that they have good things to report every meeting.
In relation to follow-ups, you ought to divide major goals and action plans into smaller ones. Thus, it will be easier and faster to monitor the progress. It’s also a more efficient way to get things done while giving employees a feeling of fulfillment. Be sure to celebrate small successes and congratulate them on a job well done.
Investigating the Truth
Before you let the steam out because your expectations were not met, you have to look closer and deeper. Maybe the employee in question did not understand the instructions. Perhaps you were not able to communicate well.
It could also be that he’s currently suffering from health concerns or personal problems, which is affecting his performance. Yes, this may not be an excuse but you can work it out with the person and help him manage his time and stress more effectively. Who knows? He might even become your best employee later on, especially if he sees that you’re concerned about his general welfare and would like to help him grow professionally.
It’s also important to be aware of your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. How well do you know them? You may have been assigning tasks that are not their forte. It’s okay to encourage them to build on things they have to improve, but then you can’t expect much if this is the case. Remember that there are employees that may be stronger in some areas than others. Play on their strengths and talents if you want to get the best out of these people— for the good of your business!
Turning to the Positive
At first, there’s really no need to be too rough or harsh on the employees who don’t meet your expectations. In fact, it’s better to turn this situation into something positive. Although you will still give your honest and unbiased evaluation, you can focus more on the positive things. You should also take this opportunity to remind people of the company’s vision and mission as well as the benefits for both clients and employees when the team works excellently.
Together you can evaluate the planning and implementation process, as well as assignment of tasks and all other aspects. This way, employees won’t feel like they’re on the hot seat. They will instead feel like they are working toward a common goal for improvement. They will feel that they truly belong to a team, and that you appreciate them and value their opinions.
Come up with new approaches to planning, monitoring activities, and ensuring that everybody’s on track. You can have a private FB group or you can make use of a work/project platform like Basecamp. You must understand that not everyone absorbs information the same way. Hence, also be creative!
Having the Conversation
What if you’ve already done the tips given above and still some employees are not delivering or doing their jobs well?
Then it’s probably high time to sit down for the conversation. This means having a serious one-on-one with the employee who has not been performing well. You can opt to give the person one last chance after finding out what is hindering him from doing better or meeting expectations. Be truthful and remain objective. Simply stick to the facts.
And when this person still doesn’t improve, then you’ll need to lead him toward the direction of his true passion. What would really make him happy and fulfilled? What kind of job would motivate him to wake up every day and give it his best shot? This could be a good way to inform the person that he’s not suited for the current job he’s holding and may have to transfer somewhere else.
The Online Counterpart
If you have employees that you work with only virtually, then you will need to schedule meetings via Skype or another platform. You can utilize email, social media, project software, and the like to keep things on track and monitor progress.
It might seem less personal, but you can always hold video calls to connect better. It depends on the situation.
What matters most is that you carry out your part efficiently and work on providing tips and reminders to everyone. Good luck!