When ‘Other People’ are the Barrier to Improved Performance

Welcome to this 2 minute HR Blast from Jaluch. Managing poor performance is one of our regular topics, but we have never focused solely on how the people in an organisation can actively create barriers to improving performance.

Poor performance costs organisations a fortune. Each and every minute that someone is not working towards agreed goals or is working in a way that has some sort of negative impact, costs dear.

Poor performance adversely affects revenue generation, customer service, profitability, productivity, staff retention levels, absence levels, employee engagement, investor and supplier relations and future growth.

The question we often ask is ‘can you actually afford to not address poor performance issues?’

Here are a few of our ideas of how people create barriers to improved performance. Plus of course a few suggestions for what you might do or implement to remove some of those barriers.

 The Culprits

  • Leaders
  • HR people
  • Managers
  • Team members

How Leaders Can Create Barriers

  • As the saying goes, incompetence breeds incompetence. If you don’t have competent leaders then those same leaders are unlikely to seek to develop the performance of those below them. It’s just not in their interests to do so.
  • Leaders who lack good communication skills will likely not be very supportive of those below them who are managing issues of poor performance.
  • Leaders who lack emotional intelligence skills might not understand what is required and why it is important, nor how to support their managers.
  • What culture do the leaders promote? Shouting, blaming, insulting and powerplays will not create an environment in which good performance management occurs.

A few possible solutions…

  • Weed out incompetent leaders. Don’t let appearances deceive, review their actual performance and don’t hesitate to use 360° degree performance review tools with senior leaders. If your leaders baulk at a 360° assessment, perhaps that is even more reason to do the assessments, provided they are done professionally and with appropriate support provided.
  • Do a mini analysis or mini staff/management survey to assess whether any particular aspects of your culture or operation inhibit good performance management of staff.
  • Develop emotional intelligence of your leaders. This used to be irrelevant, then it became a ‘nice to have’ but now it is fast becoming a ‘need to have’. To find out more about our EI assessments click here.

How HR Can Create Barriers

  • There is no excuse EVER for anyone from HR failing to back up supervisors and managers trying to manage performance. Supporting with managing performance must be a priority for every single day.
  • Just saying that managing performance is the manager’s job without then supporting managers creates a huge barrier to successfully managing performance. It is lazy and unhelpful. If HR wants managers to take responsibility then HR needs to train and then fully support managers with that.

A few possible solutions…

  • If HR staff themselves are lacking in confidence in how to manage tricky or poor performance, then first and foremost this is an area of knowledge and confidence that needs to be built.
  • Clear responsibilities are essential for both HR and managers if these issues are to be managed well. Are there clear accountabilities in place that are understood by all?

How Managers Can Create Barriers

  • Endless excuses around reasons for failing to manage poor performance – short of time, other priorities, don’t know how, not worth the stress and aggravation, I inherited the problem, its hard when someone is a remote worker…
  • A lack of knowledge of required procedures results in steps not being taken, exacerbated when managers who know they need more knowledge in this area do not ask for training
  • Not supporting fellow managers or supervisors who are struggling to manage a difficult employee… “It’s not my job, I’ve got more than enough of my own work to do, not my place to interfere, the only way to learn is to learn by experience, making a few mistakes is good for the soul”.
  • A lack of understanding of how poor performance impacts across the organisation means that managing poor performance is never a priority.

A few possible solutions…

  • Training in how to manage performance
  • Clear accountability
  • Creating a culture that actively encourages sharing of ideas and learning

How Teams and Team Members Can Create Barriers

  • Teams can unconsciously prevent performance management when they operate on the basis that cohesion in the team is more important than identifying and rooting out under performing team members.
  • When the team operates in such a way that weaker members are actively protected by the stronger team players meaning that management often does not become aware of under performance issues.
  • When there is a dislike of anything that might destabilise the accepted ‘order’.
  • A lack of understanding of the impact of one under performer on those around them and the business as a whole, it results in poor performance being accepted as ‘just one of those things’.
  • When there is a misguided sense of ‘us and them’ which can encourage team members to actively cover up poor performance.

A few possible solutions…

  • Create a culture whereby all staff know that under performing staff are treated with respect and in line with established, fair procedures.
  • Have individual goals/KPIs as well as team ones so that under performance can be easily identified.
  • Regular communication/training for staff on all things related to the organisation such as profit and loss, strategic plan, inhibitors to success, success stories, organisational values etc.

There is no way around it, managing performance is hard work, time consuming and often a thankless task. Most of us are not born with an innate ability to manage other people who are not hitting the mark, fairly and with confidence. We hope that this Blast has been of value and please do share it with others in your organisation. If you’d like further advice or support, here are the options:

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The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.

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