One often hears about “Performance Management”, but, performance deep dive / analysis is not heard of often enough. Far too often we look at performance as an end all. Is Performance measurement taking place? Is the person performing or not? Are the numbers lining up? If not, maybe do a warning, berate or push, but offload them if it does not improve.
The analysis that is needed is WHY the performance is not taking place? Where is the bottleneck? What stops them from performing at their optimum? How can we help?
There are far too many factors that impact performance.
- They don’t know what to do: They have not been properly guided on the process, the product or the project etc. Simply put, they don’t know what they are exactly supposed to do. It happens more often than one would expect. I have overheard this conversation personally: “But I thought you were a senior person and would know what to do.”
Fix: Clear direction is needed. Clarity in what is expected. Clarity of leadership. Clarity of outcomes. Clarity on resources and tools being provided – how they work, where they can be utilized, how, why etc. And not simply the big picture. They need details, and then, more details.
- They are aware of what needs to be done, but don’t know how to do it: Expectations sometimes cloud our judgement. We may consider the person to be professional, aware and on the ball. But, just maybe, the project requires different competencies or skill sets. Maybe the process is not clear. Maybe the clarity is not there on market segmentation, territory assignment, reporting structures etc.
Fix: Just like the first example, the devil is in the details. Ensure competencies are in line with what is required of them. Provide training if required. It could be a skill development challenge, or, even a direction challenge. It may even be a clarity issue. Guidance may be required in this regard.
- Don’t know why they should do it: It may be a case of WIIFM (What’s in it for me). Why is this important? How does it create value in the organization, in the bigger picture? What does it do for me? My career / future / profile. Why should I?
Fix: These people require Selling instead of Telling. Sell them the concept, the idea. Don’t just tell them what to do. If they know where it all fits in the bigger picture and what is required and for what reason, they can come up with ways to get it done. Motivation, Inspiration, Direction, coaching helps.
- They think they are doing it: Many people think they are doing well until they receive a bad appraisal. They are usually taken by surprise.
Fix: They need performance management. Honest, regular, timely and specific feedback would go a long way in taming this beast.
- There are obstacles beyond their control: Many times its not about will or skill. Its external factors that constrain. Could be the workload. Could be conflict elements. Could be a case of a toxic boss. Could be the resources or tools provided to them are not sufficient.
Fix: Workload assessment can be conducted to ensure it’s all within reason. A 360 degree survey could provide some insight. Re-visit the support mechanisms provided (Resources/Tools etc.) Whatever the case may be, management support would provide impetus to their efforts.
- They just don’t want to do it: There can be many reasons for this. Motivation. Inspiration. Belief. Interest. Skill. Will etc. They may have been hopeful of something which did not materialize. They may have other interests or other ventures they may be involved with etc.
Fix: Candid open discussion on their desires, dreams and hopes. Coaching them through any issues they may be facing and obtaining clarity on WHY.
- A missing link: Sometimes, the performer is seriously good at all the other aspects, but may be lacking in or missing one small bit. Fixing that bit may give the organization an A player. Instead of losing this A player, we need to make an effort to locate and fix that possible missing link.
Fix: The perfect example of a sales lady that was a genius at cold calling, getting into the door and making relationships. But, when it came to presenting the solutions it was a dead-end. Fix this and you could have an absolute winner.
- Distractions: These may be simple ones like cell phones and digital noise related to emails etc. These could also be internal requirements that keep people busy while not generating the impetus that is required.
Fix: Time & Motion analysis. Questioning. Observation. Removing a printer from next to a lady changed everything for her. People used to chat while waiting for their printouts. They would call her to check if anyone was there at the printer so they could come to print their material. She would be asked to keep printouts until someone came to pick them up etc. etc. Removing this one thing gave her freedom, focus and 3 hours a day extra. Ensuring people are not CC’d on emails unnecessarily. Little things can free one up and allow them to focus on what’s important. Unnecessary paperwork, red-tape etc. may not allow enough time for sales people to be out there, on the ground, selling.
- Missing competencies: Classic example of a sales person being moved into a sales management position. Two totally different set of competencies / skills required for the people management job.
Fix: The person must be groomed, coached, trained and prepared for the position. Just because one is good at sales does not automatically mean they would be good at managing people. Their skills must be honed for the next post.
In the end, relieving ourselves of a problem employee sounds easier than conducting an deep dive analysis to understand the reasons behind their inability to perform. But, there are rewards that may be lost unless an analysis on the WHY is made.
The WHY is the answer.
Opinion Piece: Uzair Hassan, CEO, 3H Solutions Group, Dubai (email@example.com)