One of the most uncomfortable dilemmas a manager can face is how to deal with an employee who isn’t meeting expectations. No one likes firing an employee, but if you keep them around without addressing their performance issues, they can drag fellow employees down – possibly your entire organization.
Mitchell Marks, professor of leadership at San Francisco State University, offers two strategies for dealing with employees who are underperforming employees.
- Set performance targets
Ask the employee to complete a job with a measurable outcome, such as a deadline or a predetermined accuracy rate. If they can complete the task, that’s great. But a performance improvement plan with targets you’re fairly confident the problematic employee cannot meet can be effective as well, especially if you wish to encourage them to look elsewhere. It also creates a paper trail for you to reference when it comes to time to give an employee review or performance feedback.
Remember, though, that honesty is key. Before setting up a performance target with the employee, discuss their shortcomings with them in a face-to-face meeting, and let them know that keeping their job is contingent on meeting the goals you set. Then, if you’re still not seeing improvements after a predetermined period, you can be more direct with the employee in discussing an exit plan.
- Provide an incentive to leave
Workers who are disengaged typically know when they aren’t performing at their full capacity, and they may be more likely to quit on their own if given an enticing offer.
Marks points to a strategy that Amazon employs. Once a year, the company offers certain employees who no longer want to work there or who feel checked-out up to $5,000 to quit.
But you can use other incentives besides monetary awards. You could offer to keep the employee on board for a set period to give them a chance to apply to other jobs; promise to write a stellar letter of recommendation if they quit; or provide a few weeks of severance pay. Depending on your company’s resources, you could also offer outplacement and career counseling services to assist the employee in finding a new job.
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