Effective Ways To Improve Work Performance

improvement graphicJust about every business owner would like his/her employees to focus on the work they do while producing quality results. However, every company is bound to encounter an employee that fails to meet expectations. Often times it puts business owners in a tough position of choosing between letting an employee go or finding ways to help improve work performance. Before showing your employee the door, consider some of these options.

Identify the Problem

Sometimes the employee may be oblivious theres actually an issue with his or her work performance. Their intentions may be in the right place. They may just need a bit of guidance. So, shedding light on the actual issue. Confront your employee privately. Keep in mind, bringing issues into the open isn’t about simply complaining. Be prepared to discuss the problems and provide solutions and recommendations. Your employee should leave the encounter with a full understanding on their problematic areas and how correct the issues.

PROBLEMS-SOLUTIONSIf you’re anything like me, conflict can make you uncomfortable. Avoidance can help you put off a situation. However, it solves nothing. A common technique that may help you overcome your apprehensiveness of confronting an employee is to use the sandwich technique. It’s called such, as you sandwich the criticism between two complements.

For example, say an employee often missing work deadlines. You might begin with by complimenting the employee on the high quality of work consistently submitted. Starting with a compliment shows you appreciate the work your employee has been doing. Next you’ll address the situation. “I noticed you’ve been missing quite a few deadlines lately. Share with me what’s going on.” Once you understand the situation, look for solutions. You’ll end the encounter with another compliment. “By the way, Client X was really happy with XYZ. Keep up the good work.” Compliments are always better when they’re specific and detailed.

Be Open to Discussion

Communicate Sign Showing Speaker Or DiscussionIn the example above, you’ll notice I asked the employee to share with me. It’s easy to go into accusations and criticism without knowing the whole situation. Not only can doing so be off putting, it can also sap motivation in the long run. On the other hand, being receptive to feedback will show you’re not out to get them, but rather looking for real solutions to a problem.

Another benefit allowing open discussion is you offer the employee an opportunity to be involved in the solution. Before you offer suggestions, your employee may already know how to resolve the situation. Instead of the conversation ending with your dictate… do or else, the employee can not only own the problem but also the resolution. They become accountable to their own decisions.

Individualize Incentives

Carrot Or Stick Keys Showing Motivation By Incentive Or PressureThough you may have several employees who struggle with the same issues, a one-size-fits-all solution may not be your best option. Regardless of the job title, employees are individuals. As such, they may be motivated differently. For example, some individuals are highly motivated by public praise. They may love to be in the spotlight and publicly recognized for a job well done.

On the other hand, an employee who leans toward the introverted side may feel awkward receiving public praise. Singling him/her out can be a stressful experience. That doesn’t mean an introvert doesn’t appreciate recognition. Consider this example instead: “Customer X asked if we knew anything about XYZ. I mentioned that research report you drew up last year and passed it along. Customer X said it was exactly what she was looking for.”

Establish Goals

I’ve talked quite a few times about goal setting and evaluations. So, I’m not going to go too deep into goal setting. What I will say is to document the goals, so you can reflect on them at a later date. Reflection will include both acknowledging successful completion of goals and goals not accomplished. Just like you should make S.M.A.R.T. goals for your company, the goals for your employees should also Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound.

Cutting Your Losses

Termination of employmentSometimes an employee just isn’t the right fit. It’s unfortunate. However, if you’re in business long enough, you’ll likely encounter an employee who you’ll have to cut your losses and let go. Prior to dismissing an employee, it’s important to keep documentation. As you work to bring them up to standard, each step should be notated, including the issues, solutions, and expected deliverables. If meeting those expectations are job dependent, your employee should also know. In the end, it should be no surprise to your employee when you provide them with a termination notice.

Final Thoughts

Running a business in itself is challenging. Adding employees to the mix present a different set of challenges. I like to think of employees as one of the valuable resources a company has. However, the wrong employees on your team can easily become a liability and even bring your company to ruin. It’s up to you, as the owner, to guide your employees so that they reach their potential within your company.


What techniques do you use to help improve work performance?