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I obviously don’t work for your company, but my experience tells me there is a better than average chance that you have subpar performers that you’re letting work at your company and it is draining your company’s productivity, profit, and growth. I wish I was wrong but I see it everywhere, every day in every industry.
Think about the poor performers in your life. At work, at school, at church, at the stores you frequent, maybe even at home. Infuriating isn’t. Missed deadlines, waiting in line, poor customer service, sloppy or slow processes, etc. Do you feel your blood pressure rising? Believe me, top performers really appreciate having to do more work to cover for their uninspired co-workers. In fact that’s a leading cause of turnover for top performers – burn out over cleaning up the messes made by their slack co-workers AND frustration that their managers will not clean it up.
Bruce Tulgan, noted management author and thought leader and past speaker at CAI’s HR Management Conference believes that “undermanagement” is one of the most detrimental phenomenon affecting business today. He wrote a best-selling book called “It’s OK To Be The Boss.” Why are so many managers not “being the boss” and letting poor performance slide? We hear things like…
HR is blamed a lot.
Poor Performance generally comes in three categories:
I once heard it put, hire slow and fire fast. Good words to live by. Yet I frequently find companies actually do the opposite - they hire quickly and impulsively and then take forever to separate the problem employee. Many performance problems are really hiring problems in disguise. So my advice, take more time assessing candidates. Most HR professionals know within the first five minutes of orientation if a new hire will make it or not. Why didn’t they uncover that earlier? HR professionals sometimes tell me the line managers decided to hire the person against HR's advice. So who is at fault? I advise HR professionals to stand their ground and use turnover data to make your case. And once you know someone is a poor performer, address it quickly. Fairly and respectfully, yes, but quickly.
The time between losing confidence in someone and them leaving is one of the most expensive in a manager’s life. So if you’re a manager, start being the boss and quit letting poor performance slide and quit hiring people that should not work for your company because you are desperate. Your employees will thank you, because believe me they know who shouldn't be there and they talk about it and suffer through it every day. If you’re in HR do not let a lawsuit that will probably never happen overly impact how you deal with problems. The EEOC actually dismisses two-thirds of all claims filed and only finds cause in about 3% of the charges it receives each year. However, letting poor performers remain is a real problem that is draining your company every day. I'm not advocating for a wild west management style absent of warnings and second chances. I am suggesting we run our companies in a way that maximizes results versus running it out of fear. After all a rising tide lifts all boats right!
I know this sounds pretty straightforward. Who doesn't get this right? Ask yourself that question the next time as a consumer you have a bad customer experience at the hands of a problem employee. You'll be in that situation sometime this week and you'll ask yourself why that company lets that person treat its customers that way. Well, for the same reason it's allowed at your company. Think about it.
If you need help dealing with problem performance at your company please call our Advice and Resolution team. They answer thousands of questions each year that deal with performance management.