Speeding Up Slow Performers
08 March 2019

Productivity - lack of competence – capability

Watching Fred (or Freda) carry out work – beautifully, accurately, but painfully, desperately slowly – is a bittersweet experience. Fred/ Freda is an artiste. But it’s really no good producing something absolutely perfectly if Fred’s rate of productivity is only 25% of everyone else’s perfectly adequate and acceptable work. You’ll go bust if you don’t you tackle this type of problem.

An issue that is often raised by clients is that of the poorly performing employee. Most managers hate managing work place problems especially if they have to “tell off” someone who’s nice and well-meaning, but just doesn’t deliver.
You can’t avoid the P word in today’s economy. The correct rate of productivity is essential. It’s one of the most important issues.

Many managers find dealing with capability (where the employee can’t meet the employer’s requirements, as opposed to misconduct where the employee won’t meet the employer’s requirements) very difficult.
It is vital to develop the ability to identify and tackle poor work performance effective in a timely fashion.

The key to being a successful manager is getting work done effectively through your team. It’s not always easy but putting off dealing with employees who are not delivering to the standard you require is the worst thing to do. It might seem easier to ‘work round’ a poor performer, but other employees resent carrying a colleague. They might leave, you could end up doing the work yourself, or it may be that the work just doesn’t get done. That’s not a satisfactory outcome.

Workers who produce work at a slower rate than the acceptable average reduce a team’s productivity and damage colleagues’ morale. Everyone is busy so anything that prevents the smooth functioning of the team can quickly become demotivating.

What can you do to speed things up a bit?

  • Try to find out the reason for the slow performance. There can be many different reasons why someone is slower than you would like. But even if you have an idea of the root of the problem, the best thing to do is ask.
  • Set out your expectations clearly and precisely. It may be that your employee doesn’t even realise that he’s slow, in part because he doesn’t understand what’s expected of him.
  • Get rid of barriers and problems. Find out if there’s anything which is having a negative impact on the employee’s workflow.
  • Reduce the alternatives. Too much choice can slow us down or paralyse our decision-making capabilities. When you give an employee less choice on how to proceed, it’s easier to get things done. If you offer three options it gives them enough freedom of choice to motivate, limits their options to something manageable and helps them make a quick decision.
  • Give short-term deadlines. If people know they have a deadline to meet t tends to help them focus and they achieve far more than if they have a task to do without a specified end time.
  • Use performance data constructively. You may have data available that shows how a certain worker performs at a snail’s pace compared to his or her colleagues. If you use such data in the right way — say, as a nudge that focuses the employee on customer results — it may help improve his or her work habits over time.
  • Break projects down into smaller deliverables and check at agreed deadlines to make sure everything’s proceeding smoothly. This strategy can also help with procrastinators
  • Try to give employees work that they enjoy. When you take the time to find out what people enjoy doing, you’ll often find what they are best at. Assigning employees to work that they enjoy will naturally improve work performance.
  • Provide feedback. Even if you’ve done an effective job getting to the root of the problem and helping slower employees look for smart shortcuts, your most important task as a manager is to follow up and offer feedback If there’s been an improvement, make sure you tell them so.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2021 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.