Performance management

Capability refers to an employee's skills, ability, aptitude and knowledge in relation to the job that they employed to do. Lack of capability will in most cases lead to unsatisfactory job performance, which is likely to cause problems both for the employee's manager and for the employee's colleagues. The key feature of lack of capability is that it is not the employee's fault. Very few employees choose to perform their work badly, make mistakes, fail to complete tasks or have poor relationships with colleagues or customers.

In the event that an employee is underperforming managers should examine the circumstances and give support to employees to help them to improve to the required standard of competence, rather than contemplating disciplinary action. Appropriate action should be taken promptly as soon as it is noticed that the employee is not performing certain aspects of the job satisfactorily. Delaying - or worse doing nothing - may cause the performance problem to escalate. The result of this could be that managers subsequently face a major crisis caused by underperformance rather than dealing with the problem while it is still in its infancy.

When resources are stretched to the maximum we are asking more and more from our valuable people resources, so why is it that the good ones always leave?  Aren’t they up for the challenge the additional responsibilities or the outcome of doing a job well? A quick and simple reason is inequity, the good ones work harder and the underperformers are left to continue to underperform with no management direction or consequence.

So what should we be doing, at a time when manager’s ill need the additional work load of managing people issue? Again, the simple answer is look at what the business needs, direct people to achieve it, provide them with the support and management to achieve and reward when successful.

It does sound simple but the work involved in setting your team to achieve what your business is looking for take time, a good understanding of the business needs and the ability of your people. But once in place, a good manager can reap the rewards from a successful team and drive the business forward.  The effort then comes from maintaining the success, you’ve worked hard to get there what do you do to retain your people?

Third simple answer is reward.  And that doesn’t mean about throwing lots of money at people, although that will help with some!  When the reward pot has run dry a well-earned ‘thank you’ goes a long way.  When a manager takes time out to recognise good performance (outside of the normal appraisal process) it means a lot!  Don’t get me wrong, a thank you does only go so far and then most ‘normal’ employees will want financial recognition, development or more challenges.  But praise and acknowledgement of job done well is a great start that managers often miss out on.

The other element that will retain good people is seeing the effort that everyone puts in.  If one person is underperforming, whatever the reason, this will eventually cause upset within your team.  Along with directing, motivating and recognising good performance, managers also need to deal with poor performers.

People don’t often look to underperform, if they do this is more to do with their conduct than capability.  But with true capability issues the key is understanding why people are not performing and then address this, be it the right tools/resources to do the job, more authority, clearer direction and support or training. So in a nutshell the good ones leave, in my view, due to inequity from lack of recognition be that reward, promotion or development and the inability of managers to identify and then deal with underperformers.

A manager who can address these issues will be on the road to having a successful team who will drive the business forward!