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What needs fixing in our business to improve performance? Part III

Understanding how to improve issues leading to non-performance is critical to your success. Read on for the actions you should take to resolve these issues.

June 23, 2022  |  By Donald Cooper, MBA

Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of the article that appears in the Spring 2022 edition of the HGO Merchandiser.

Click here to view Part I. Click here to view Part II.

A regular contributor to Home Goods Online, Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now a Toronto-based business speaker and
coach, he helps business owners and managers rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.

Read on to discover Donald’s last five possible reasons for staff non-performance – and his recommended actions to take – below.

10. Employees are underpaid, underappreciated, or both.

OOPS, sorry. Our fault again. Underpaid people feel that they’re being ripped off, so they either lower their performance to the level that they think they’re being paid for, or they leave. Unappreciated people just wither away like a plant that hasn’t been watered. We need to attract, retain, engage and inspire top performing talent. What action will we take to pay our people competitively and fairly? What benefits can we offer or improve? Pay more…and expect more. And what will we do to look for behavior to praise, reward and celebrate?

11. The job is beyond their mental or physical abilities.

This means we’ve put someone into a job they’re physically or mentally incapable of doing. But it’s not their fault. They gave it their best shot, but they can’t perform as required. Rather than beat them up for non-performance, graciously guide them into a job that they can do or help them exit the organization gracefully.

Determine as best you can which reason might be at play.

Make a list of all employees who are not performing as they should. Then, determine as best you can which of these possible reasons might be at play. It could also be a combination of these.

12. They were great in the past, but now seem bored, ‘burnt out’ by the job, or by a combination of work and life pressures.

How can their job be made more interesting, or varied? Or should they be moved to a different job to give them a change of duties? How could we help them balance their work and life priorities? What coaching or flexible hours might they need? Maybe they’ve been working long hours for too long and just need a break. Can we accommodate this?

13. They’re related to the boss…

…or they’re a shareholder in the business and are incompetent or think they can do whatever they want. Their non-performance is hurting the business directly and sets a bad example for others.

As difficult as this problem is, it must be dealt with. Either they perform and behave appropriately, or they leave. If they’re toxic shareholders, they need to be bought out. Otherwise, they’ll destroy the business or serious erode its growth and future value.

14. They simply don’t want to do it.

They’re lazy, irresponsible or have a toxic attitude and never should have been hired in the first place.

Some people are simply poor performers or toxic for reasons that exist entirely within themselves. We don’t have the time or resources to save these people. We’ll get our documentation together and then move them out of the business quickly. Good people leave because bad people are allowed to stay. Also, how will we improve our hiring process to screen these people out before we hire them?

Now what? Actions to take

  • Have a private, calm conversation with each non-performer. Be specific about their shortcomings and explain how it’s hurting the business, your customers, the team and the bottom line.
  • Ask them for their insight as to why their performance is not as it needs to be.
  • Since many of the reasons might be the business’ fault and not theirs, ask them to be frank and assure them that you want to hear the truth. Ask for specific examples.
  • Then, sort out the difference between reasons and excuses.

The next step for each specific non-performance situation is to determine an agreed course of action on their part, or on your part – or on both your parts to improve performance to where it needs to be.

Be specific about the level of performance the business requires from them. This is no time for vague generalities. Get and document their commitment on a fair but specific timeline by which that level of performance will be achieved.

When confronted with their lack of performance, some employees, especially those in the last category above, will simply resign and solve your problem. For those who commit to improve, agree to fix what needs fixing on your end and then support, encourage and coach them on their journey to top performance. Follow up and measure performance. Let them know if you see them
slipping back a bit and get them back on track.

Remember, the world is run by those who follow up.