Happily, few organisations retain the ‘forced ranking’ system that classifies a fixed proportion of the staff as poor performers at the end of each year and then, as Jack Welch advocated at General Electric, manages them out of the business – or just fires them A business I once worked for did this and it was as brutal as it was stupid.
This isn’t to make a naive suggestion that there are no poor performers, nor that we should tolerate poor performance. We need to identify and handle under-performance at the first sign. Of course, prevention is better than cure, as we looked at what the positive tools are for performance management a while ago (What is Performance Management?) and also at the reasons for poor performance (The root of the issue).
But what can you do to deal with the poor performance you discover? In a series of three blogs, we will examine:
- The infrastructure you will need
- The techniques to turn poor performance around
- What to do if you cannot turn the poor performance around
The Infrastructure for dealing with poor performance
A good organisation – and a strong management team – will recognise the reality of poor performance and proactively develop the elements it needs to engage positively with poor performers and manage their performance to turn it around. Here is my checklist of the assets your organisation will need.
A performance management policy
… so that everyone knows the answer to ‘what next?’
Up to date and clear job descriptions
… to measure performance against
Robust performance monitoring processes
… so that managers have early indications of under-performance and a strong evidence base that allow them to identify and tackle issues early and firmly
A recruitment process (and all that involves)
… to maximise your chances of recruiting the right people and minimising your need for managing poor performance
Training in performance management
… because tools, techniques, policies and procedures are no good unless managers know how to use them
Coaching skills among line managers
… because coaching is one of the best tools for dealing with poor performance
… for the managers conducting performance management, who are likely to find it mentally and emotionally challenging and stressful
A disciplinary policy
… in case performance management does not succeed