What factors influence poor performance?

Poor performance is an outcome of a myriad of different inputs. We also need to watch our own biases when it comes to performance, and what we deem to be ‘poor’. If you don’t have set outcomes, or expectations for behaviours and standards of work, then managing poor performance will be a challenge for you.

Here are some of the factors that influence poor performance.

  • A person’s abilities, and their training.

    Do they have the right ability to do the job? Have they had the right training? Try not to assume, spend the time asking the person if they feel they have had the right training.

  • Procedures.

    Are your procedures getting in the way? Is it just that the person is unable to follow those procedures? Are they clear enough? Have they been explained? Do they have easy access to these procedures? And sometimes, if we find things that are hidden, deep down in the intranet 10 million miles away, it’s really hard to find them when you need them. So some people just don’t even bother. Make sure you check that your procedures are helpful, not a hindrance.

  • External Influences

    We need to understand that we bring our whole selves to work. If someone is not normally a poor performer, but you’ve started to notice that things are being missed, or their performance is slipping, have a think about what else might be happening for them outside work, and how you might possibly be able to help them.

  • Not Using strengths.

    Are we using this person’s strengths to the full ability? If 90% of the work they’re doing is not related to their strengths, they are likely to be unfulfilled. They won’t be a happy camper. They aren’t engaged, and end up not caring about the work. They become a 9-5 person.

  • Lack of recognition.

    Are they just not being recognised enough? You know that saying, we always get told what we’re doing wrong, we never get to what we’re doing right? Has that actually happened without you even being aware of that? And rather than saying “good job”, try to give specific praise as often as you can.

  • No clear expectations.

    Another big one is not having clear expectations. This is when somebody doesn’t really know exactly what’s required of them. If you haven’t nailed down the very clear expectations on what success in that task might look like, or what it looks like when it’s done to your standards, then chances are, you’re going to look at it and it and say, “Oh, they’re not performing very well.” But ultimately, they just don’t know what your expectations are.

  • Wrong job.

    Are they simply in the wrong job? It might be time to have an in-depth conversation about where their career is going, and what they are getting out of the job. It’s ok if you both work out it’s not right. You might want to help them find something else, but at the end of the day, you need to manage the poor performance. Just because it might be the wrong job, doesn’t excuse a lack of performance. If someone is being paid to do a job, you need to make sure that the job actually gets done.

    Next time someone isn’t quite performing their best, take a minute to think through some of these causes and prepare yourself for a conversation with them about it.