Asked by : Vijay Bhaskar, COO, Divami Software Private Limited
Industry : Human Resources (HR) Consulting
Functional Area : Performance Management
Keywords : performance management
Activity: Question posted: 06 22 2009 04:35:45 +0000, 18 answers, 4041 views, last activity 03 27 2011 11:46:48 +0000
Performance of people impacts the goals of not just the individual, but also the team the person is associated with. Low performers are 'formed' due to many issues in the organization including bad communication, unclear goals and targets etc. Though the issues is not just with the systems within the organization, it is also due to the nature of the individual. The quick way to address this is to get rid of the under performers, but is this the best way to handle under performers?
One manager I know has a very interesting method to handle this: He ensures that he selects at least 5% - 10% of his team from the under performing list. This ensures that they have a new lease of life and this new faith in them encourages them to perform better and also is a huge cost saving for the organization.
What do you suggest is other ways to handle under performance - which is cost effective to the organization and encouraging to the individual, and also has a over all positive impact in the organization?
Under-performers – the word itself shows they are performers but not meeting the expectations. Definitely they can be brought up to the former category – the performers. For that the HR or the immedite superior should have an open communication with the person. Once you understand the competency of the co-worker/ team member, you can tenet them.
In a team you can have high, mid and/ or low performer. The deliverables seen by the customer is from "the team". It is the team's responsibility (especially the leader for giving direction to members) to work and support the low performer to come up to speed or quality of the deliverable. It is the bottleneck which decides the overall flow in the final output. We need to make sure all neccessary support provided to him/ her. This has the positive impact in the long term both to the team and also to the organization.
India's percentage of "have-nots" are more than treble of "haves"! Do we consider the "have-nots" as under-performers! We do subjective judgement on people! There are so many factors that lead to under-performance. We never get to the root of the problem. Mostly judgement is made by middle level managers about an employee who could be wrong in various angles, if properly assessed! No single pill can be used for all the diseases. The solution vary from case to case basis!
underperformance can be related with health, mental situation of workers, atmosphere given by the company and the manager or motivator who is week in performing calculating the performance, knowing the employees, imperfect in maintaining peace and harmony against labout. the speaker who speaks to other should have good intention it should not incompass with greedy or limited up to self interest only.
The very evaluation of performance is by comparision with underperformance. If underperformers do not exist, performance has no existance. The underperformance also changes from context to context. SOMEBODY'S JUNK MAY BE SOMEBODY ELSE'S TREASURE. Do not ignore underperformers, change your vision to see talents in them, nurture and get results. Instead, if you identify the underperformers as underperformers, you may be a failure in identifying some potentials in them.
first of all i would say that this is a great effort to identify a low performer because here in this case we are getting the chance to fill the gap between the standards and actual.
now coming to the topic ..
there can be so many reasons behind performing low..like may be the problem is a breakdown in communication between employee and manager , may be manager expects that all of his employees should be proactive and handle multiple tasks at once,may be they are not consistent with their tasks at work place and because of that they are not able to generate interest in the same,may be the expectations of the manager is very high in terms of results.
whatever may be the reason if it so ....the first priority should be given to create interest in the task by adopting any step second by deligating them a sense of reponsibility or authority for the task....really it will be helpful...
As a manager, maybe one of the most difficult situations you may land-up in, in your career is dealing with underperforming employees. How you respond, react, act, handle can determine whether a problem is quickly resolved or it becomes an even larger issue.
While dismissal may be your sole option in extreme cases, most of the time you can turn around individual job performance with the right approach and the right attitude. Important is to implement a fair system that matches the consequences to the action.
Take immediate action.
- Don't wait until an employee's formal review to discuss poor performance on the job.Remember, before someone can change, they must know what they're doing wrong.
- Schedule a private meeting to talk about the issue and be as specific as possible.
- Make sure that the employee is provided with the opportunity to respond to your concerns. There may be some issues you're not aware of like for example pressures at home or problems with coworkers, which might be adding to the problem.
- Make notes during the conversation
- Provide direction
- Create a plan for improvement
- Make sure that your own actions don't send a conflicting message
- Do not go overboard while providing encouragement
- Assign a mentor
- Select a mentor who possesses strong interpersonal skills and an enthusiastic attitude.
- Monitor the situation
- Make sure to praise when an employee does achieve objectives, even minor milestones.
Minor changes can often lead to dramatic improvements. Stick to your goal.
Often, minor changes can lead to dramatic improvements. Stay committed to your goal. You may find that a below average or under performer is able to change into a productive employee.
I, as a manager, would never reject a person as my team member because of him being low performer. As the question suggests there are many factors contributing to low performance. For me it is only a data observed and recorded by the most badly calibrated equipment called human.
But I do not have a formula too to deal with the situation. Technique, if any, is situational management.
In my view, you are an excellent project leader. Your views indicate how serious you are on deadlines and performance. A leader will face lot of problems if his team is under-performing. In that context, your views are understandable.
I have not indicated that your experience and knowledge is inadequate to make the remarks you have made. I actually appreciate that you have made them.
My researchf area is health after 35 years of age where I concentrate on ageing issues. I am not from science background but actually a finance professional.
My research indicates that under performance is the cause of potential health factors a person may be facing due to ageing. A person's concentration levels come down and his vision, hearing, sleep, sexual ability, metabolism and general activity levels also deteriorate. If poor performance is result of these problems, then our approach should be different.
This was my idea when I indicated that you may not have similar views when you reach 45 years. My implication was that you may not be a judge but a victim, having aged yourself and your own probles might have increased.
In the context of Two Major Organizations that I've worked with before, and my current Organization, I have found a trend that in a Team ranging from 4 to 30 people, almost 35% to 40% are on the poor performing side. Occasionally, I've even stumbled upon the "destructive" types, which range in the same group, with a different set of characteristics. If we consider only the poor performers, I've observed that poor performance mainly originates from:
1. Lack of common Interest (The Technology in Use is not his Strongest Skill)
2. Lack of Social Interest (The person is suffering from a personal glitch, or, is depressed, addicted to some ailment, don't like the work, etc )
3. Lack of Inspiration/Motivation (The work seems boring, he lacks the Motivation, or the Inspiration to perform)
4. Inadequate Skills (The work is above his intellectual capability)
5. The worried Ones (The have some personal problems, and they just cant isolate their mind while at work, which brings down their performance)
6. Poor personal-management & Time-Management, and,
7. The bad apples (Referred to as the "destructive types" above)
To deal with all the different cases sited above, the HR, or the Project Manager/Mentor has to take different, though definitive actions; apart for the SIXTH case, which needs different treatment.
Most of the problems can be solved by Motivating the individual by talking to him personally, pay more attention to him, assign a little less work to that person, identify and then try to better his personal, technical and time-management skills and move him to a different project, or assign him to a different module of the project, which is of more interest to that person, elevate his self-confidence and help him a bit more, or even a 1-2 weeks of holiday may sometimes help. In case the person has some personal problems, its best to let him allow to recover, or even provide Professional Advice. To deal with personnel fresh out of college-addicts, Psychological Counseling may work out, or, with Highly Skilled elderly staff, department shuffling (with less gray intensive work) can even help for a certain period of time. Normally, this works for 60% of those cases.
The remaining are the two groups, namely, "The-ones-which-don't-belong-there" types and "The-Bad-Apples".
"The-Bad-Apples" are generally, one of these three personality types:
- The Depressive Pessimist will complain that the task that they're doing isn't enjoyable, and make statements doubting the group's ability to succeed.
- The Jerk will say that other people's ideas are not adequate, but will offer no alternatives himself. He'll say "you guys need to listen to the expert: me."
- The Slacker will say "whatever", and "I really don't care."
These people do nothing good to the project, apart from,
- They cover up their ignorance rather than trying to learn from their teammates. "I don't know how to explain my design; I just know that it works." or "My code is too complicated to test." (These are both actual quotes.)
- They have an excessive desire for privacy. "I don't need anyone to review my code."
- They are territorial. "No one else can fix the bugs in my code. I'm too busy to fix them right now, but I'll get to them next week."
- They grumble about team decisions and continue to revisit old discussions long after the team has moved on. "I still think we ought to go back and change the design we were talking about last month. The one we picked isn't going to work."
- Other team members all make wisecracks or complain about the same person regularly. Software developers often won't complain directly, so you have to ask if there's a problem when you hear many wisecracks.
- They don't pitch in on team activities. On one project I worked on, two days before our first major deadline, a developer asked for the day off. The reason? He wanted to spend the day at a men's clothing sale in a nearby city -- a clear sign he hadn't integrated with the team.
"The-ones-which-don't-belong-there" types simply cannot work, to which, there are a couple of solutions only; either move him to Training (after Training him on his Best Pick), or Hand him "The Pink Slip", which is often very unfortunate.
For"The-Bad-Apples", there is only "The Pink Slip". As a manager, its very unfortunate to declare publicly that, out of the initial 60% of the cases, often 10%-20% are those with whom no extra hours, or shuffling, or even other ways don't work. At that point in time, HR and Junior Management has to decide when the certain period of time has run out (which depends on the Corporation, obviously) for that candidate, and the Organization simply cannot afford the employee anymore.
Addendum: Posted in Reply to SR Sham Sunder's comments!
Dear SR Sham Sunder Sir,
I would be really very happy if I'm able to portray views similar to your indications after 12-15 years! Primarily because, I also feel that Proper (Corporate) Grooming in the Right Direction, can actually remove the mis-norm of "Poor Performers" for anyone who is not performing as expected from him, once they are given an opportunity to his/her own liking.
But, its grave to share the experience of a mere 8-9 years, which turns out to be quite bitter! Thanks for pointing it out! Cheers!
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