Managers lack confidence when dealing with underperformance

Six employers in 10 do not believe that their managers are confident and competent in managing underperforming staff.

This is according to the 2011 XpertHR managing underperformance survey, which also found that four-fifths of organisations think that underperformance is a problem in their workforce to some extent.

However, the survey of 165 employers found that many employers are optimistic about their overall ability to deal with underperforming employees. Six employers in 10 say that their organisation is quite effective at tackling low performance levels and a further one in eight say that it is very effective.

The five main performance problems employers faced were: high levels of sickness absence; the capability of the individual; poor attitude or behaviour to colleagues; poor standard of work; and failure to meet set objectives.

Employers considered the most effective strategy in managing underperformance to be providing regular informal feedback and guidance to the individual.

Despite the lack of confidence in line managers’ ability to deal with unsatisfactory performance, more than nine organisations in 10 said that management take principal responsibility for dealing with it.

Rachel Suff, author of the report, said: “If line managers are going to be up to the task of effectively managing performance – and underperformance – they need the support to discharge this responsibility.

“Appropriate training in the necessary skills is the bedrock of that support.”

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