Employee Performance Management: Strategies for Getting an Employee Back on Track

Have you had one team member bring down the morale of an entire department? There are many reasons why an employee may become dissatisfied and there are several ways to get the situation back on track, or better yet, from happening in the first place. With very little monetary expense and a moderate investment of time you can cultivate a work place that promotes employee morale, mutual trust and active engagement. These qualities set the stage for high productivity, employee retention and customer satisfaction.

The critical task for you as a leader is to quickly spot a potential problem and successfully manage it so it does not erode the culture you have built among your staff and customers. There are a variety of methods for intervening and remedying unproductive employee behavior. Here are just a few ideas to help get an employee back on track:

Focus on asking/listening rather than telling/talking – It is the nature of leaders to want to solve problems, offer solutions and move on as quickly as possible; however, often the best approach requires taking the time to respectfully ask questions and patiently listening to the responses to understand the full story from the employee’s perspective.

Taking the time to listen to your employees also provides you with valuable insights into their critical thinking and reasoning skills, as well as a better understanding of what matters to them so you can effectively tailor your motivational strategies to drive desired behavior enhancements.

Engage employees on a more personal level – Employees are more than just interchangeable cogs performing a repetitive series of tasks. Therefore, the extent to which you are able to take a personal interest in your employees and treat them, as unique individuals will go a long way toward engendering increased engagement on their part.

Much in the same way that inquiry and listening skills can provide valuable information when addressing performance issues, taking a personal interest in an employee’s unique knowledge, skills, abilities and personal interests can enhance your ability to best match that employee’s talents with the needs of your organization – a “win-win” situation for both parties.

Offer outside assistance – Sometimes employees are dealing with situations that are beyond the scope of support you personally are equipped to provide. In those instances they might be feeling stuck and uncertain of what direction to turn for help so be sure to remind them that other external resources are available. One such resource is your organization’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which many employees often overlook when caught in the midst of a difficult situation. Another option to consider is setting up an internal mentoring program where employees are paired with a more senior person in another department to whom they can turn for confidential assistance both in good times as well as in times of crisis.

2 responses to “Employee Performance Management: Strategies for Getting an Employee Back on Track”

    • One book that immediately comes to mind is published by the Harvard Business School Press titled “Dealing with Difficult People.” Each chapter is written by a different author and deals with a different aspect of managing difficult people, e.g. under-performers, negativity, etc. It’s one in a series of books titled “The Results-Driven Manager” and it was copyrighted in 2005.

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