Sharing the blame and responsibility for employee underperformance
When an employee fails to meet expectations and goals, or if they are habitually underperforming, it’s a natural first reaction to want to reprimand them so that they take responsibility for their underperformance in the future. However, before jumping to conclusions regarding their inefficiencies, first assess the situation in order to determine whether what you perceive as employee failure is, in fact, a simple failure to communicate.
While it may be the case that you have a troublesome employee on your hands, there might be another reason why your employees aren’t meeting your standards. If you notice a pattern of employee underperformance in your organisation, you should question whether your company is guilty of the following.
Neglecting the importance of engagement
Employees who are engaged are more motivated and productive than those who are unsatisfied with their job roles and uninformed as to how their role influences the organisation as a whole. Engaged employees are by their very definition more likely to meet their goals and objectives, as they are eager to play their part in achieving organisational success.
Engagement is a pressing concern for HR execs, and there are a number of ways to actively encourage employee engagement. Recognition and reward are both important factors to consider. Praise for a job well done is brought into the digital age with the use of performance management software given its interactivity and the real-time feedback it affords.
There is a lack of workplace flexibility
SMEs might feel a lot of pressure to compete with larger organisations, and as such they demand a lot from their employees in terms of overtime. This is becoming increasingly common, with over 6 million Britons working over 45 hours per week. The desire to encourage dedication and long hours in your employees is understandable, especially during particularly busy times of the year. However, do longer hours really result in heightened productivity?
According to research, the short answer is a resounding ‘no’. Forcing employees to remain at the office for extended hours will lead to exhausted and resentful employees who are far more prone to underperformance and lower productivity. In fact, it has recently been suggested that if we had a shorter working week, we would be happier, healthier and more productive. This hypothesis is backed up by a recent Swedish study claiming that a six-hour working day improves employee stamina without costing companies any financial loss. As a case study, we can look to the Toyota Service centre in Gothenburg. This company switched to a six-hour work day thirteen years ago. Before the change, staff were stressed and prone to errors, but now employees feel more content, there is lower turnover and recruitment is much easier.
Flexibility can come in other forms, such as telecommuting or flexi-time. The most effective HR executives know the importance of flexibility, how it impacts morale and demonstrates to employees that trust in their abilities to perform.
SMART goals are not agreed and aligned
If employees are uncertain as to their own goals, they will not be able to perform at their best. Developing SMART goals is something that can seriously benefit organisational performance. So that employees are aware of what is expected of them, managers and employees should collaborate to form near-term goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. These objectives should be aligned with your overall business goals. The process of developing and tracking these goals is simplified by use of modern technology and performance management software.
Communication is infrequent and ineffective
There is a very real reason why companies the world over are turning away from traditional annual performance reviews. Continuous performance management is instead being acknowledged as the best way to improve and assess performance. If you rely on once or twice-a-year meetings between management and employees, communication becomes stale. Critical issues aren’t dealt with in a timely manner and worrying behavioural habits aren’t addressed promptly, so they become ingrained.
Regular check-ins help to keep employees performing well. They give employees the opportunity to get feedback and discuss obstacles to performance. They give management a firmer idea as to the direction of an employee’s performance, as well as how the organisation is functioning as a whole.
Career development has not been considered
If your organisation does not foster an environment of learning and development, even promising employees can become disinclined to challenge themselves. They will either leave your company for one that allows for progression and advancement or they will remain with your company, without feeling inclined to work to their full potential.
When companies encourage learning and the development of critical skills, it is clear to the employee that they are valued as time and money is being invested in their future. In return, the organisation benefits from a more knowledgeable, confident employee. Appreciating and investing in your workforce is perhaps the best decision any organisation can make, and a more skilled employee is far less likely to make errors that might cost your company dearly.