October 26, 2018

5 Dead Give Aways to Identifying Performance Problems in the Workplace

You might be saying that identifying a performance problem of an employee in the work environment is very easy.   You clearly see that the employee is not meeting their targets set for them by their manager or in their performance agreement and then you know that there must be a performance problem.   Identifying a performance related problem is a lot more complicated than that because there are an array of possible and different factors that play a role in whether an employee will perform or not.  In this blog I deal with 5 clear signs to watch out for and which either individually or in combination with one another, will highlight the existence of a performance problem.

  1. The first and most obvious sign is that the employee does not demonstrate the capacity to meet the key objectives and targets laid out for him/her by his/her manager/supervisor. The employee who is not capable of performing and delivering their responsibilities will either not be able to deliver the requirements on time or will not deliver them at all or will deliver them but to a very poor quality.  This point presumes that the employer has a documented role profile in place and that there are clear standards of performance which indicate how performance of the employee will be measured;
  2. The employee cannot work independently and is overly reliant upon other staff members for assistance and to complete tasks. Employees all occasionally require the assistance of others to assist them in some or other respect.  However, where there is a consistent over-reliance and over dependence on others to get work assignments done and completed, this highlights that the employee is not capable of performing the work on his/her own and does not have a good understanding of his role which, in turn, points towards the incapacity of that employee;
  3. The employee reflects a pattern of high or frequent use of sick leave. This pattern usually shows itself where the employee is not able to meet the expectations of them in their roles and they then develop psychosomatic problems such as anxiety, ulcers, auto-immune and other stress related diseases which causes them to make use of sick leave.  The employee who uses frequent sick leave no longer enjoys their work or feels comfortable that they are in command of their responsibilities and to avoid the negative consequences of their failure to perform as well as their feelings of physical discomfort, such employees prefer to make use of their sick leave benefits;
  4. A loss in the level of confidence of the employee is usual where they are constantly under the pump for not meeting their performance expectations. This is always terrible to see where one observes this.  The employee starts off in their role full of confidence and keen to deliver.  As it becomes apparent that he/she is not fit and capable for the role into which they have been appointed and as he/she struggles to perform to the required standard expected of them by their manager, the self confidence of the employee drops completely.   Employees in this situation find this devastating but do not always know the reason why they keep second-guessing themselves, have to continually rework deliverables and why they feel so unworthy and not able to get things right.
  5. The employee becomes disengaged and un-involved in their work as well as their work environments. Where employees are struggling to meet the performance expectations set for them on a consistent basis, they resort to withholding their contributions.  They withdraw from their colleagues as well as their work environments and stop making suggestions and contributions because they fear reprisal and that their contributions are valuable.

Identifying and being able to pin-point these kinds of warning signals requires managers to understand their direct reports and to be in touch with them.  It also takes practice and one gets better at it the more one practices it.    Early detection of the warning signs will be hugely valuable for the manager and the employee as it would prompt the manager into taking timely action to remedy the situation.  This could help the employee and be just what they need to help them to perform to the standards set for him/her and avoid many of the other unpleasantries associated with having to manage and deal with non-performing employees.

Andrew Butters is a keynote speaker and specialist in employee engagement.

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