A Ten-step Plan for Managing Poor Performance



Tackling poor employee performance is a difficult but vital aspect of any manager's role. Deterioration in performance can occur at any time and for any of a number of different reasons, not all of which may be directly attributable to the individual involved. The ability to recognise and deal with poor employee performance effectively and appropriately is a desireable management skill, and the knowledge and strategies needed to acquire this skill can be attained via formal training.


Leadership and management training specialists Maguire Training offer a comprehensive course - Managing Good/Poor Performance - which enables delegates to distinguish between good and poor performance, and address and monitor them accordingly. The course illustrates the difference between employee competence and commitment and shows delegates how to assess where their team members currently sit on the competency / commitment matrix. Delegates will also learn how to manage gaps and shortfalls in performance potential.


As poor performance presents a greater issue and threatens a greater negative impact for managers to deal with, here Maguire Training helpfully outlines a ten-step plan for effectively addressing and managing poor performance.


Step1: Take immediate action


Procrastinating in the vague hope that poor performance will somehow improve unassisted is simply not an option. The sooner poor performance is recognised and addressed, the sooner the situation will improve for everyone involved and negative impact will be minimised.


Step 2: Identify the single major root cause of poor performance

Typically, poor performance can be attributed to a single underlying factor which might include a lack of resources to do the job, confusion, misunderstanding or the absence of clarity as to what is required of the employee, personal issues external to the job, a lack of appropriate training, insufficient support or the setting of goals which the employee has insufficient time or competence to realistically achieve.


Step 3: Explain, in non-accusatory terms, the wider consequences of poor performance

Demonstrate to the employee, without being vindictive or pointing the finger, the negative impact that their poor performance ultimately has upon overall morale and productivity, giving them a clear view of the bigger picture.


Step 4: Focus on positives as well as negatives

Poor performance management isn't about beating down employees; examples of good performance should be cited and praised to counterbalance the negative behaviours that need to be addressed and to maintain morale.


Step 5: Be specific about the area(s) that need improvement

Identify the one or two key areas of performance in which you must see improvement and be assertive in dealing with resistance or counter-argument from the employee. Give specific examples which highlight the behaviours that need to be addressed and changed in order for improvement to be achieved.


Step 6: Invite the employee to contribute their own solutions and suggestions

Give the employee some control over how they might tackle improving their performance by inviting constructive suggestions and solutions from them and potentially offering them a choice of suitable courses of action.


Step 7: Formulate a plan of performance improvement which incorporates measurable and achievable goals

Define a road map from the current situation to the desired future situation in which performance has reached an acceptable level and set realistic step-change goals which are both measureable and achievable within an agreed timeframe.


Step 8: Obtain the employee's agreement to the proposed performance improvement plan


Ensure that the employee fully understands and agrees with what is being asked of them and that they are confident that they can achieve it. Also be sure that they are aware of any consequences for them of failing to improve their performance as agreed.


Step 9: Hold progress review meetings at regular intervals

Measure progress and goal achievement and review this with the employee at regular intervals, giving them the opportunity to flag any problems or concerns and for you to implement any necessary remedial action or changes to the improvement plan.

Step10: Praise or reward performance improvements as appropriate

Don't hesitate to encourage and praise the individual concerned for any improvement in performance that they achieve and consider an appropriate reward for a significant and sustained improvement in performance.


For managers equipped with the correct knowledge and strategies, managing poor performance can be less of a daunting challenge. Managing Good/Poor Performance from Maguire Training gives managers the best possible head start when dealing both with good and poor performance, and is provided both as an on-site course and as virtual online training, accessible via Maguire Training's innovative E-learning system.

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