Category Archives: Morale

Dealing with Low Performers & Performance Issues

Why do we measure organizational performance? The first answers that pop into your head might be:

  • You can’t manage what you don’t measure
  • What you measure gets done
  • We have to be accountable
  • They have to be held accountable
  • They told us to (I always like that one!)   
Now what do you do if/when you have someone that is not meeting or achieving these standards while everyone else in your team is?

The first thing that must be realized is that as a manager the buck stops with you.  Its up to you transform these people and lead them in the right direction.  You cannot let low performers dictate the outcome of the team as a whole and as such the bar must remain at the level you have set.

It would be a big mistake to lower the bar in the interests of morale while sacrificing the requirements of the company.  By lowering the bar, you are only appealing to the elements of your team that are hopefully a minority.  Remember – you should always be aiming to reinforce positive behavior v.s. penalizing the negative.

You are the leader, whether you are a good one or not doesn’t really matter at this point.  You are the one that success hinges around and are in the position of leadership for a specific reason. Your team needs you to communicate a vision. You need to ensure that you are communicating with all of them (not just the weaker ones) on a frequent basis and directing them appropriately and your team as a whole needs to know that you are committed to them and their success.

Ensure that you are communicating the goals and objectives frequently and that the targets are achievable.  You will always have a bell curve with people on the low end and people on the high end with the majority in the middle – your focus should be to shift the bell so that it is skewed towards the higher end at all times.

It is key to remember that these people are all there to do a job and to do it well.  You’ve hired for their skills and expertise and you need to ensure that non-performance is something that will be addressed swiftly and conclusively.  Not doing so is something that will definitely impact the morale of your team.  If you need some suggestions on how to go about this – read my post on PIPs (Personal Improvement Plans) – for an idea.  Remember, that you are doing the job you are doing to serve the business and its customers – friendships in the workplace are nice but there should ALWAYS be a line in the sand between Management and Staff.

One final point – I’ve mentioned that you are a leader already?  So LEAD!  You need to ensure that the example you are setting to your team is the right one and you should always be aiming for the stars!   

Your team will follow where you go.

Money and Your Team

As much as you’d like your team to work for free and to have the highest quality staff at the lowest possible prices … it will never happen.  You might tell yourself that you’re doing what you’re doing because you love the job and the company that you work for and that your staff and employees should feel the same – but – let’s be honest … you and your team are doing it for the money.  You probably have a family that you are looking after, and if not, you’re doing this because you have your own personal interests that you wish to pursue.

Now with that being said … the one fact of life that we can never get away from is tax.  Unless you live in a part of the world that provides tax-free income, you are just like the rest of us giving away 30% – 50% (or even more!) of everything you earn to the Government. 
Remember the famous phrase from Benjamin Franklin in his letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789, which was reprinted in The Works of Benjamin Franklin, 1817:

“‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Despite the frustration, you might feel about this, there really isn’t too much you can do to resolve this situation.  All you can do is hope to continually grow your gross income so that the tiny amount you get to pay all your bills with at the end of the month increases by another small fraction.
Well, guess what … the British Government has now introduced a new tax on phone lines.  This tax is designed to fund the expansion of broadband services across the country and improve the overall infrastructure of next-generation services.  At first glance, this small extra tax (at £6/year – approx US$10 per year) does not seem like such a big deal and makes sense as you need a phone line to have Internet services – right????
Actually WRONG!!!  The stupid thing that has obviously not been considered and thought through properly is the fact that a large proportion of current Broadband Internet AND Telephone users in Britain utilize a Cable service … so in essence, the people using the greatest amount of service and access are the ones that WON’T have to pay for it!!  In addition, there are millions of Britain’s that don’t even have a computer yet and they will still have to pay for this tax also! 

Now, there is obviously not too much you can do to change the overall taxation system of the country that you work with/in (although it is definitely true that even a small voice speaking loudly and with conviction makes a difference) … you can, however, ensure that the way your staff are treated and compensated is in their best interests and works to their favor.  Make sure that if they work out of hours they get paid for it.  If they do extra work for the company they get the appropriate compensation and if they are entitled to a holiday – they take it!  You need to look out for your team and if you do it right and do it regularly they will look out for you too!

The Curse of the “berry”

Are you invaluable?  How about irreplaceable?  Will the world stop turning if you don’t pick up the phone or answer that email? No?

OK, so why are you ignoring your family (or friends or yourself??) to pick up the phone?  It’s very easy for companies to take advantage of employees & even more so managers who feel a personal responsibility for the performance of the team and department.  Now I’m not talking about those of you who get paid for being “on call” – unfortunately, I’ve found that Managers rarely get compensated for this – but rather the ones who don’t. 

Companies need to understand and realize that employees lives and health are at stake and for some of you (you know who you are) … their family lives also.  Staff needs time away from work and away from the stresses of the job if for no other reason than to recharge their batteries for the next day.  In addition, if staff members are constantly contacted outside of regular business hours than their staffing and hiring needs to be looked at and examined.  

Management needs to create and have in place a proper escalation plan for customers of course and a Manager should be included in there at the appropriate level.  However a Manager should not be the FINAL point of escalation and if Customers matter (which all companies state, but few actual shows), Senior Management should also form part of that plan and in addition, perhaps appropriate out of hours coverage should be put into place!