It goes without saying that the success of your company largely depends on how well employees perform their tasks. Yet, you would not be the first company to struggle with defining what that looks like.
Knowing how to maximize employee potential may seem just as foggy, even while morale suffers and turnover is at peak levels. Flipping those dynamics may involve several different solutions.
Before acting on one solution, make sure you understand why employees are underperforming first. This information is invaluable to ensuring the solutions you choose really solve the problem.
Why Employees Underperform
The best place to start when you want to know how to improve employee performance is gaining an understanding. There are reasons why employees are not performing at their optimal level. Some reasons are valid and hold clues for fixing the issue without recruiting replacements.
Keep an open mind without jumping to conclusions. The door of communication should remain open so you can discuss concerns and address them directly.
For instance, you might notice in the latest attendance report that an employee has excessive tardiness. Ask the employee why he or she arrived at work so late in the past few weeks.
When the objective is to find a solution, you might discover that issues of a personal or domestic nature are the reasons for the employee’s tardiness. Perhaps you can adjust regular standards while the employee works through the issue.
Just make sure other employees know without sharing personal details. You want to avoid the appearance of favoritism, which can have its own negative effect on performance and morale.
For some employees, inadequate skills or lack of experience may inhibit their ability to perform their job successfully. If just one of these factors are missing, chances increase that employees will underperform.
Unclear Goals and Accountabilities
Employees need very clear direction about their responsibilities, along with the expectations for achievement. Daily work schedules that include job priorities might get bumped by a crisis or changes in direction. Keeping accountabilities clear will help to minimize conflict.
Techniques to Improve Employee Performance
Once you get a handle on what is causing employees to underperform, you can target solutions to address those issues. Here are six ideas to help you manage and improve employee performance in your organization.
1. Communicate clear expectations.
Making sure employees are clear about their work assignments means communicating those expectations well. Continue to manage what is expected through frequent communications.
If employees can explain objectives in their own words, it is a good chance that they know what to do and how to get it done.
2. Make sure performance appraisals are consistent.
Regular and timely appraisals ensure employees know where they stand at all times. Conducting performance appraisals regularly also keeps goals in the forefront of daily tasks.
3. Make employee development a priority.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” This is a common interview question. Now that five years have passed, has your employee’s career goals been achieved? Or, are they still striving to reach their full potential within the organization?
If they are, maybe this is a good time to readdress those goals and plan accordingly. Work to close any skills gaps that will not only help them achieve long-term goals but will also benefit your company when their skills help you fulfill business objectives.
4. Take steps toward improving morale.
Employees perform better when they are satisfied with their job. Review things such as:
- Work environment
- Salary level
- Employee understanding of the mission and vision
Employees who understand how their role helps the company succeed are often more willing to do their very best.
5. Empower employees to do their jobs well.
Empowering employees can take on many forms as they gain the authority to make decisions that have a huge impact on their success.
Whether it is giving them input on goals and objectives, or allowing them to access their data without going to HR, minor roadblocks will not impede their progress. They have the resources they need, yet know they are held accountable without being micromanaged.
6. Utilize the right technologies.
Implement technology platforms that drive performance and engagement daily. Technology is crucial in today’s workforce, especially if you have a decentralized staff.
Mobile employees remain part of the team through powerful communication channels to keep everyone on the same page.
Organizational success thrives when the right rules and systems are in place. Simply wanting to know how to improve employee performance without including employee considerations may not help you achieve set goals.
Create times to have regular meetings and discussions – perhaps not waiting until performance appraisal day – to talk about areas of concern.
Waiting until your company experiences massive losses is the worst time to swing into action. Begin early, at the first sign of trouble, to determine the most effective ways to change an underperforming workforce into a solid team.