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Underperformance is one leading cause of company failures. The performance of an organization reflects the capability of the manager. Thus, managers are bestowed the task of ensuring that all employees perform accordingly to meet the organizational objectives. A strong manager is crucial in every organization because they determine the success of the company and how far it will grow and expand. This paper will focus on the problem of underperforming employees and the possible solutions to these problems. This is because; the work force of any organization plays a particularly key role in ensuring the organization thrives in the market.
Being a manager in any organization requires a lot of hard work. In order to become an efficient manager, one requires the backing of hard working individuals who work over and above their job titles. Managing employee performance is the manager’s key function in the everyday running of a firm (Wang, 2010). However, a manager in any firm has to deal with underperforming employees. Employees are the greatest asset any firm can ever have but, in some cases, these employees may become a significant liability to the firm.
In any firm, the staff should be well capable of performing their skills and be knowledgeable in their areas of competence so as to enable utmost performance. The employees should also be self motivated to work and not rely on the firm for motivation. Motivated members of staff perform at their level best and require minimum supervision (Hagedoom & Van Yperen, 2003). A staff member performing well understands the alignment of the firm. This employee, therefore, understands his or her role in the firm.
Underperformance in a firm would be caused by any of the following key reasons:
1. Lack of skills
2. Lack of motivation
3. Poor alignment
4. Poor structures
5. Poor management
6. Unrealistic targets
7. Poor guidance from senior personnel
8. Ineffective work procedures
9. Machinery breakdown
The manager’s key decision is how to deal with these employees. The manager has to decide whether to dismiss this employee or to deal with him or her and try change their work perspective and ethics.
Managers need to deal with the problem of underperforming employees otherwise there will be serious problems. These problems include:
1. The underperforming employee may reflect the way he works is acceptable in the frm.
2. The other employees in the firm may be discouraged from working hard as underperformance in the firm will look reasonable.
3. The behavior of the underperforming employee may now become a habit as he deems it to be sturdy enough. It will, therefore, be harder to reproach him to change his or her working habits.
4. The manager’s credibility may be questioned. This is the reason why underperforming staff on his team makes the manager seem ineffective.
Some managers are lenient with the underperforming employee and do not deal with the problem the minute it happens. As a result of this fact, the manager ignores the problems and hopes they will just disappear. (Charlton 2000). The manager hopes that the underperforming employee will realize their mistakes, change and improve their performance.
Some managers also lack the confidence to confront an underperforming employee (Webb, & Blandin, 2006). This, therefore, makes the manger fail to point out mistakes as they happen which in the long run will cause poor performance for the manger.
Other manager’s fear that if they confront the problem of underperformance other problems may be highlighted this in creases the managers problem solving task. Also, some managers fear challenges from the underperforming employee if they dare to confront.
Causes of the problem
The manager’s response to underperformance in his team needs to be different depending on the cause of underperformance. The manger should not deal with a cause such as poor health the same way he would deal with a problem such as lack of necessary working skills. It is of utmost important that the manager first establishes what the cause of underperformance is so as to find an effective solution.
The following model shows an example of the causes of underperformance.
Chris is a clerical officer in a medium sized company. The firm’s office hours are as from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. It is Chris’s duty to open up the building for other employees and begin receiving customer calls. The firm relies on the charge for service course enrolments as part of its revenues and it is, therefore, noteworthy that each customer call is received.
Recently, Chris has gotten into the habit of arriving ten or fifteen minutes late for work. His manager, Elaine, have noticed that the phones answering machine frequently cuts out before clients’ are able to leave their message. The manager, Elaine, must determine the cause of Chris’s underperformance before figuring out how to deal with it.
1.Lack of the adequate skills
Chris loves his job immensely. He also knows that the answering the phone earns the firm revenue which is one of the firms main goals. He does not have any other job and thus has no tasks to do before 8 a.m. apart from getting to work on time. However, this is Chris’s first job, and he lacks time management skills. As a result, he is always late to work, which is unprofessional, and wastes company time.
2. Lack of motivation
Chris has no other task to perform before getting to work and is, therefore, able to get to work on time but could not care less. He lacks motivation and hopes he can get away with the lateness.
3. Lack of alignment
Chris thinks that it does not seriously matter what time he gets to work so long as he works through the day up to closing time. He also sees that some of the office workers keep flexible working hours and sometimes even work from home.
Solutions to the problem
Lack of alignment in the organization is the easiest problem to fix. Not all employees in the firm know the firm the way the mangers do. Chris does not understand the alignment of the firm and maybe his colleagues with flexible working hours could just be field officers, which enables them, to work at home. Elaine, the manager, should explain the firm’s alignment to Chris so as to understand everyone’s role in the firm.
Managers often view the lack of skills as poor attitude towards work or even as lack of motivation. Most employees who lack basic working skills feel awful about it as they see as if they are letting everyone in the organization down (Burney & Widener, 2007). Elaine should, therefore, take it upon herself to coach Chris on essential time, management skills or get someone else to train him. Elaine should be clear non-judgmental and supremely systematic in the time management training.
Lack of motivation is the hardest to identify for any manager. Managers should, therefore, be able to talk openly to their employees so as to identify this problem. Motivation for employees such as Chris could be simply recognition of exemplary work or even better pay.
Alternative measures for underperformance
Tackling the problem early
Elaine should be able to recognize the problem early and establish possible solutions. All these must be done before Chris makes it a habit which will make it harder for the manager to tackle.
When employees understand their problems, they can change their behaviors and resolve the problems. Elaine should be specific when explaining the problem to Chris to help him see the reason he should not be late to work. Elaine should explain to Chris the importance of responding to all the calls from clients in order to improve on his performance in the company. Pinpointing behavior directly is more effective than making general statements about an employee's behavior.
Do not take underperformance personally
Underperformance of a manager’s team may cause the manger stress and cause problems even in the mangers personal life. As a manager, the firm pays the manager to go above the stressful situations and come up with viable solutions to the problems. Stress may even cloud the mangers capability to make effective judgment.
When faced with underperformance problems, a manger may consult on possible solutions from colleagues, mentors and even friends. For this reason, it might not be easy for a manger to come up with all the necessary solutions by him.