When People Don't Meet Expectations: Identifying and Preparing for Talking with Problem Performe

If you have been following this HR series, you now have policies, job descriptions and routines for both you and your staff. You have done a lot to make sure everyone has job clarity and knows exactly what is expected of them.

You will, however, still have people from time to time who aren’t meeting your expectations. One of the toughest things to do as a leader is address performance concerns in a timely and fair manner. I know these conversations can be awkward and uncomfortable, but you have to do it. Too many people avoid the conversation for way too long, lose great staff members in the process and then feel terrible when things end badly.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are dealing with a problem performer in your office.

Recognize That A Problem Performer Is a Problem For Everyone

Sure, you get frustrated with people in your office don’t meet the expectations you have set for them, but it doesn’t just affect you. Other staff members have to take on that workload and patients don’t get great service from the entire team.

Try to Identify Why Someone is a Problem Performer

Staff members can become problem when they don’t understand the expectation, don’t have the capacity to do what is asked of them (this happens when the role expands and they can’t expand with it) or when they don’t really care about meeting the expectation, such as when something at home is distracting them or when they simply wish they had another job. Understanding which of these you are dealing with will help give you insight into what your conversations will look like.

Address it NOW, not later

Because performance conversations can be very uncomfortable, it is something that is easy to put off. You can’t do that – you have to talk as soon as you see something that is not going well. Seeing poor performance and failing to address it is really just telling the person that their behavior and performance is acceptable. They will not change and they may even further test limits.

You Can Still Sleep At Night

I see a lot of leaders struggle with these conversations because they don’t want to feel responsible for firing someone. If you are clear with your expectations and do everything you can to help the person be successful, then understand that they are the ones making the employment decision, not you.

Dealing with problem performers may be your toughest task as a leader, but you get more comfortable with practice. Next week I will cover how to address performance concerns.

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