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Managing Under-Performance or Driving Over-Performance?

Managing Under-Performance or Driving Over-Performance?
ArticleAdvice for EmployersLeadershipSales
Publish Date: June 13th, 2024

Any business leader will know that sometimes, although all lights were green at interview stage, an employee just doesn’t perform as well as you’d expected.

Whilst your first instinct is, quite rightly, to get to the bottom of understanding why they’re underperforming (is it a capability issue? Time management perhaps?), it’s our job as managers to be equally accountable. Try turning the question inwards: instead of managing underperformance, should we instead be trying to drive for overperformance?

Ask yourself these questions:

Have I set proper expectations, and does this person know that they’re underperforming? As a leader, it’s your job to let employees know where the goal posts stand and give them something to aim for. In setting out the expectations clearly, succinctly and without question, you’re driving that person towards that goal – so make sure you’ve done your bit. An employee who doesn’t know exactly what’s expected of them can often become unsure in their actions, leading to underperformance. Worse yet, if they’re unaware that they are in fact underperforming, they may be blindsided when you eventually bring it up.

Is this individual motivated to complete their work as best they can? Whether your employee is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, it’s your job to understand their drivers and work them in a way which keeps them engaged. If, for instance, you know that someone is driven by the prospect of being promoted rather than financially, don’t offer them a cash bonus for overperforming. If one individual is simply driven by the prospect of earning more money, don’t ply them with offers for paid training and education as an incentive.

Your job as manager is to achieve results by ensuring each member of staff is getting what they need – it takes time and care to truly understand, but the performance of your team could depend on it.

Have I provided them with the tools and resources to be successful in this role? We’re talking about the right tech systems and whatnot, sure, but also training, education and coaching, too. There are pieces of software on the market which automate certain processes and can save an unbelievable amount of time; also, there are tricks of the trade which only you know, and imparting these might be the key to that overperformance we’re aiming for. Tools and resources – both tangible and intangible – fall on you, so take stock.

Could they be doing more if there was less to do; essentially, is this workload manageable for one person alone? Sometimes underperformance can be a result of simply too large a workload. Ask yourself whether you’ve set them up for success or failure, based on how much work they are personally responsible for. Could an external investment – be it into one of the time-saving tools we mentioned above, or even a member of support staff for example – drive this individual to absolutely smash their goals?

Overall, let’s stop talking about managing underperformance for a while – let’s talk about driving overperformance instead. Consider it a matter of proactivity; taking the bull by the horns and taking accountability.

Instead of asking yourself why this person is not performing, ask yourself the question: what could I as a leader be doing more of, better or differently to drive overperformance?

Here at Certus, we go further than just finding you the perfect candidate and managing the recruitment process for you. Our service offering has been diversifying over a number of years now to include genuine consultation with regards to everything people-related – be it management help, onboarding, succession planning and more. We don’t just make hires – we build teams. Teams which overperform.

We’d love to talk about how. Get in touch today on 0204 538 8222.

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