Managing a Team of Under Performers

Posted by on Thursday 26 Jul 2012

Are you a manager with employees that are under performing?  If so, you know the experience is frustrating.  Getting employees to perform at target levels, and then beyond, can be one of the most rewarding results you can see as a manager.  This tutorial will help you turn your under performing team around to being a team of the highest caliber!

Take Immediate Action

The first step to take when you notice your team is under performing is to act quickly.  Under performance will usually only get worse if it is not addressed early on.  Many workplaces are familiar with a phrase related to accountability: “Silence is consent.”  When a manager clearly sees a bad practice going on in the workplace, and doesn’t say anything about it, he might as well be telling the employee(s) that the behavior is acceptable.

If you have been noticing under performance becoming increasingly more the routine in your workplace, not addressing it gives your employees the consent they need to continue on with their habits.  Act now to put an end to this behavior.

Try to Determine Root Causes

Immediate action means trying to diagnose why the issue of under performance is taking place.  A good preventative measure is routine performance review meetings with individual employees and department teams.  If you can get a read on what each person’s specific role is and how he or she is fulfilling it, you will have a good idea of what their performance level is like.  Also, conducting performance reviews lets your employees know that you are paying close attention to the quality and volume of work done.

If you have not been conducting thorough, regular reviews with your employees, start now to correct the pattern of under performance that is developing in your office.  Through these performance reviews, you should be able to tell if the source of under performance is related to a personal issue outside of the workplace or if it is rooted within the workplace.

In the case of team-wide under performance, the problem is almost always going to be rooted within the workplace.  Performance reviews should help inform you if the problem is with upper management, a team leader, or perhaps even yourself.  Who should be the driving force for your employees?  Are they inspiring and encouraging quality work?  Do the employees respect them?

Addressing the Issue With Leadership

If you think you may know which leader who’s under performing behavior is giving your team consent, you may want to try to inspire them.  Producing a change in that person can make your job of handling an under performing team a lot easier.  Never confront this person and accuse them of being the root cause!  No matter how much you investigate, the bulk of the work you are doing here is at best experimental psychology.  You are trying to make an educated guess about who is the role model for your team, and how their under performing work ethic might develop in your team members.

Inspiring change in a leader can inspire change in a team.

Addressing the Issue With the Team

After you have tried to change under performance in leadership, your real work involves turning around your team’s behavior.  When it comes to getting the performance results you want out of your team, you have to start small and conservatively.  Slowly begin raising your expectations for the team.  Set small goals along the way, and watch them rise to meet them.

Always keep your goals realistic.  You don’t want to burn out your employees too fast as you raise them up to target performance levels.  Give goals achievable and realistic timelines.

Incentivize and Encourage

Because you are dealing with under performers, you might see better results if you incentivize your team with rewards.  Also, your team might be more likely to produce better results working together, instead of as individuals.  If this is so, offering an incentive for meeting a certain goal can be a good way to get your team to pool resources and improve together.

Remain encouraging throughout this time of raised expectations.  Getting employees up to target performance means constant encouragement and recognition.  Make your employees feel valued for their services, and praise them with specific references to their accomplishments and improvements.

See Results

Provide a support system for employees who feel like they’re falling behind.  Also, keep a keen eye on the team’s performance through routine performance reviews and personal interest and involvement in the work being done.  When you follow these steps, you will see your under performing team turn into a team that meets target levels.  With the right kind of leadership and model behavior, you can take your new target level performing team even further!

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