Many times we avoid taking corrective actions because we are uncomfortable with the interaction, we don’t think we have the time or, worst of all, we believe this problem is a one-time occurrence and it won’t happen again.
In my last post, I discussed Goal Setting & Tracking and today I’ll deal with what to do when goals are missed.
Once you have installed a repeatable process for goal setting and tracking and people are comfortable with it, accountability is the next step. In a meeting environment it is appropriate to hold people accountable, ask penetrating questions and seek corrective action plans. The entire team can be used to help a struggling colleague develop plans for getting back on track and the exercise can be seen as supportive rather than punitive.
When a team member routinely fails to achieve mutually negotiated goals, a one-on-one counseling session is more appropriate. Use this time to inquire into the team member’s personal and work situation and help them develop realistic plans. Often when someone is struggling at work, it can be the result of something in their personal life. For example, a sick child, relationship problems, financial issues, etc. Help the employee understand that they must improve their work performance but be empathetic and also offer suggestions for dealing with their non-work issues.
When a team member is struggling, don’t wait to intervene. I’m not talking about micro-managing but rather offering support and developing solutions. People know when they are not doing a good job and it wears on them. Many are afraid to admit it and ask for help while others just try to”wish it away”. Don’t let them become isolated. This usually results in even more missed goals, time commitments and quality issues. In many cases, you’ll end up losing a good employee who could have been retained if timely corrective action was taken.
Finally, the struggling team member is not the only one being hurt by this lack of performance. Other team members are affected by their colleague’s poor performance and either their work product is affected or they end up “carrying” the struggling team member and they really resent it.
You don’t want to hear people saying “we were all wondering when you were going to do something about old what’s his name”.
Set meaningful, measurable goals, track progress and take corrective action when required.