Few firms tackle poor performance successfully

More than 80% of companies employ staff who fail to meet deadlines or show a poor attitude to work, new research by Personnel Today’s sister publication Employment Review has revealed.

Four-fifths of respondents to a performance management survey, covering 139 companies with a combined total of 300,000 staff, have experienced under-performance to some extent, while one in 10 have confirmed it is a considerable problem.

Yet just 8% claimed the organisation’s policies and procedures to tackle poor performance have been successful.

So what can organisations do to tackle under-performance head-on?

The survey findings suggest the key to solving poor performance is communication, coupled with clarity about expectations and objectives, early intervention, and ensuring managers have a clear view of the underlying problem before applying a solution.

Companies stressed the importance of ensuring the under-performing employee understands and acknowledges there is a problem and accepts some responsibility for achieving a resolution. Depending on the cause, provision of support through training or coaching and regular contact with the line manager is also a persistent theme.

Of a series of measures designed to improve performance by far the most effective was having competent and confident managers to handle poor-performing employees.

Clear communication between managers and staff came a close second, followed by the ability to provide challenging work.

Recurring under-performance

Eight out of 10 organisations (81%) confirmed that agreeing an improvement plan with the employee would be the first step to take for a first-time under-performer.

More than two-thirds (68%) of companies would jointly agree to more regular, informal performance reviews.

However, when dealing with systematic under-performance, more than one-third of respondents would resort directly to the disciplinary procedure (38%).

Some 118 respondents (94%) have disciplined at least one employee for under-performance in the past two years.

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