How to tackle poor performance

Workplace productivity

Tackling underperformance requires a systematic approach. Ideally, it should start with an analysis of why some staff perform less well than others.

A study by the EI Group says reasons may include:

  • Lack of skills.

  • Inability to understand the general aims of the organisation.

  • Absence of accountability processes.

  • Lack of rewards or recognition for good performance and the resulting lack of motivation.

  • Insufficient guidelines about the duties in different roles.

  • Poor ability to see how underperformance can affect the entire organisation.

  • Work that does not present challenges or a creative outlet.

Whatever the reason, the process set up to deal with underperformance ought to be a model for good performance.

The EI Group, which specialises in human resources solutions, says any such system should comply with the Fair Work Act, while monitoring the work according to clearly defined guidelines. Records should be kept and appropriate warnings given.

Any attempt to enforce discipline should be based on a progressive approach, offering ample opportunities for staff to improve. Above all, managers ought to reflect on whether they are doing their job properly.

“Until managers have made performance standards clear, it is almost impossible to manage underperforming staff,” says EI Group chief executive Ben Thompson.


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