Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

How long should you give an underperformer? – Part 2

By Anthony Hughes | Nov 5, 2014 | Staff Retention

This blog follows on from the first steps you should take to start tackling the lack of performance from an underperformer in the workplace.

We looked at how you could initially talk to the HR department and discuss what methods were available to assess the current level of performance by the employee in question.

One of those methods you might be able to apply is the ‘Personal Performance Model’ which many managers have used down the years to help them decide whether an underperformer can be turned around.

Underperformer: Applying the ‘Personal Performance Model’ to an Underperforming Employee:

When you do have a situation where you want to assess just why an employee is falling short of where they should be, you can apply the model we discussed in part 1.

You will need to assess where the deficiency lies in the employee from the four elements mentioned in the model (knowledge, attitude, energy and aptitude).

Out of the four elements in the model, a deficiency in a person’s knowledge is the easiest to address, so long as that employee has the desire to learn.  You can offer re-training and encourage the practice of new skills and knowledge, and offer coaching to reinforce the desired behaviours.

With attitude and energy, it can be difficult to correct these traits as ideally the employee will or won’t possess the right attitude and motivation to apply to a role.  However, if the source of the poor attitude is environmental – caused by the company’s culture, or even you as a manager, then there is something you can do to improve it.

Mostly, this has to do with the notion of connecting the company’s goals to the personal goals of the individual. This is often accomplished by inviting them to shape the goals themselves in a way they feel are aligned with their personal goals and values. Often, when this is done, energy generally follows proportionally.

Underperformer: Can you fix a bad attitude?

I also believe that aptitude is mainly beyond our control. It is more genetic, or perhaps some would describe it as a talent. As discussed in Part 1, you could buy me all the track day driving lessons you want but rest assured I’ll never be the Stig.

If the lack of attitude has to do with external factors (say from one’s personal life, or a health or psychological disorder) this is very hard to fix. If a deficiency in attitude and energy is due to strong lack of agreement by the employee about mission, strategy, values, culture or their lack of respect for leadership, these too are very hard to fix.

Too often I see managers launch massive efforts to help address an underperforming employee when the problem is mainly not fixable in the first place.

The third and final part of this blog is located here where I explain a little more about how to deal with some of the deviancies you could face from an underperformer.

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

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