The short answer is “yes.” The “how” is the hard part. Most all managers have had the experience of supervising a poor performer. The typical response is to adopt a “wait and see” approach in the hope the individual will self-correct. This hardly ever works. Managers in larger organizations often attempt to transfer the individual out of the work unit, but this does nothing for the larger organization. The best way to resolve the issue is to tackle it head on.
Amy Gallo, writing for the Harvard Business Review, has some great tips for managers:
- Take action as soon as possible — the sooner you intervene the better
- Consider how you might be contributing to the performance issues
- Make a concrete, measurable plan for improvement
- Forget to follow up — monitor their progress regularly
- Waste your time trying to coach someone who is unwilling to admit that there’s an issue
- Talk about specific performance issues with others on the team
Hiring mistakes belong in their own category. Occasionally a person is hired for a job they simply cannot do. If they have the right attitude, skills and capability to perform another available job, put them in it. Fast. If not, bite the bullet and let them go.
Formerly good performers who are now poor ones are their own special cases, and the solutions to these are as varied as the individuals. Oftentimes it is not the individual who has suddenly changed, but rather their circumstances in their personal life or at work. Perhaps they have suffered a personal loss or new processes or demands at work now magnify their weaknesses instead of their strengths. These individuals have often earned the investment of time to determine the cause of underperformance and get them on the right track.
Wishing problems away never works. Competent managers put in the time in effort necessary to deal with performance problems before they impact the organization.