Managing the Underperformance of an Employee
The underperformance of an employee is an issue that a manager is supposed to resolve; Kettner describes a corrective action process that can be used for it. In particular, I will need to prepare for the “we’ve got a problem” interview by gathering information about the situation. Here, the factual evidence (the reports that have the underperformance recorded) is very important: it would help me to determine if the performance is actually unsatisfactory. As stated in Week 1 Summary, I am not superhuman: I can be biased, mistaken, or overlook some details, especially since I am new to the position. The opinion of the previous supervisor and the explanation regarding the lack of intervention can shed some light on the situation. However, he or she might have made the wrong choice. Other opinions may be solicited, but they should be treated cautiously: they can be biased or otherwise distorted.
The most important opinion, in this case, is that of the underperforming employee. The reasons for unsatisfactory performance can be different, and it is necessary to find out if the employee cannot or does not want to perform well enough. The reasons for the former situation may include employee-related issues (for example, lack of skills or a high level of stress) as well as those that do not depend on the employee. For example, we might have different expectations concerning the desired performance, and in this case, it is I who has failed to communicate and instruct properly. Similarly, there may be issues with existing instructions and procedures or understaffing. The employee is likely to be aware of the problem that hinders productive work and should be able to report it.
Apart from that, the employee might not want to perform appropriately. The lack of motivation is a significant problem; Kettner believes that a well-designed motivation system is an important part of managerial responsibilities. The reasons for the lack of motivation can vary. For example, the person may be experiencing emotional burnout, which is a personal difficulty, but there may also be insufficient compensation or a discrimination case. Organization-related issues need to be addressed before they affect more people.
When I can reasonably claim that I know the cause of the dissatisfactory performance, I will propose a plan of action, discuss and negotiate it with the people who I would be expected to consult, and proceed to carry it out. While personal problems can probably be resolved by me (through support or reprimands depending on the situation), systemic issues are likely to require reporting them and, possibly, mobilizing the remaining employees to comment on them. If the problem is resolved but the dissatisfactory performance persists, we will proceed with the “you’ve got a problem” or probationary interview to the point of termination if required.