team members Managing a team entails dealing with a number of things that you may never have experienced before. One of those is an under-performing employee.

Authoritarian management types are likely to just fire an employee—but is that the right thing to do? An authoritative manager leans more towards finding a way to resolve a performance issue rather than employing more Draconian measures like firing, suspending or demoting an employee.

Is there a middle ground, or is performance management simply delaying the inevitable?


What Is Performance Management?

This is the ongoing process of employee performance, accountability, and corrective action plans for improvement when needed. Many companies are moving away from the “annual performance review” in favor of regular conversations and feedback with each employee and how they do their job.

Although some HR consultants use this term for the standard performance review system, performance management is about creating a positive working environment where employees are allowed and enabled to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. The process begins when you draft a job description and ends when the employee departs the organization. It includes:

  • Developing clear job descriptions and defining the purpose of the job, including responsibilities and duties
  • Recruiting the best and most suitable candidates for in-person interviews to narrow down the group
  • Hold additional interviews for testing and to learn more about each potential employee
  • Select the ideal candidate, make an offer, and when accepted, and conduct orientation and onboarding
  • Have the new employee meet with their manager to discuss requirements, achievement-based performance standards, results and gauges between employee and manager
  • Provide continuing online training, education, feedback and coaching as needed.
  • Discuss performance development planning every quarter
  • Create valuable employee recognition and compensation programs that reward employees for their continued contributions
  • Offer SAP career and promotional development that includes transfers, lateral moves, and job shadowing programs.
  • Learn more from departing employees about why they choose to leave during exit interviews

Performance management can also turn every interface with an employee into a learning opportunity for both parties. 


Addressing Employee Performance Issues

There was a popular story told in management training was about a teenage girl hired for her first job in a burger joint. After onboarding and teaching her how to make the burgers, management turned her loose on the assembly line. Immediately, orders were being returned—burgers had mustard when they shouldn’t. Even with additional training, she continued to add mustard on each and every burger.

Finally, someone sat her down and asked why she kept doing it. Her response: “Because that’s the way we do it in my family!”  She learned this behavior prior to the job and didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to be putting mustard on each and every burger. When someone directly addressed the problem and discussed it, she made the burgers as intended. Afterward, she became a successful employee.

You have two options when dealing with employee performance issues: you can “crack the whip” and hope they get the message, or you can work with the employee to get to the root cause of why they are under-performing. The first method employs negative motivation, which only produces limited results, and generally doesn’t help your company succeed. Using the second method, you’ll be able to not only find out why, but offer options to help your employees improve and succeed—even if it means the employee departs from your organization.

Remember that when discussing problems with an employee’s performance, it can be a problematic conversation. Tact and compassion should be used liberally, since the root cause could be a challenging personal issue, such as health or family difficulties.


Setting Standards

Once you find the right individual, it’s important to set up clear expectations immediately, including an accurate and detailed job description along with distinct performance goals. A hardworking employee may deviate from their job and not realize it if they don’t have this information in the beginning. When the employee understands the standards and expectations, they are more likely to deliver top performance.

Regular feedback is also important, not just once a year, but on a consistent and regular basis, even if it’s just a short conversation.

When an employee makes a minor mistake, a manager can correct it easily for small transgressions. A formal process should be saved for more serious transgressions. The best way to prevent a recurrence is to address it directly and work with the employee on improvement.


Continued Issues

Should a performance problem recur, the next step is to find the root cause. Sometimes it’s non-work related, such as health or family challenges, and should be treated carefully.

But many performance problems are caused by either a lack of motive or a lack of skill, so determine the cause before considering the next step or corrective action.

If the problem is related to the employee’s abilities, offering additional training, coaching, and/or minor changes to their job responsibilities may benefit the employee and resolve the issue. If the issue is motivation-related, an employee may improve if they receive more positive feedback about their work or some additional support. Providing opportunities for professional and personal development and growth can boost morale, and help your employees become more invested in your company.


Keep Records Of Interactions

While a casual conversation may be all that’s needed to change and improve employee performance issues, it’s a good idea to document any corrective actions that are needed. This also helps managers to keep track of employee’s work advancements as well as determine the additional steps needed for each employee to reach their goals. Additionally, managers should have a record of performance reviews, disciplinary actions and any corrective actions taken to address and improve the employee’s work performance.

Not every work-related performance issue is a cause for termination. By working with an underperforming employee who has deficiencies, performance can improve and help them become stellar employees with a “hand-up.”


SAP Training For Your Employees

Do you have employees who don’t seem to “get” the SAP part of their job, or consistently need help using it?

Offering training assistance to team members who need to learn more about SAP can be a positive gift. Michael Management has been training people to use SAP since 2000. We can help one team member or your entire team learn SAP faster than they can learn it on their own. Our anytime/anywhere e-learning platform is user-friendly and includes helpful people who want to help SAP students become successful.

If you’re considering offering SAP training to your employees, contact us today to find out how you can help your team members learn or improve their knowledge of SAP and excel in their careers.  

Author Photo

Amy O'Donnell is a staff writer at Michael Management and curates various blog topics. An experienced writer with expertise ranging from writing web copy, blogs, and articles to white papers and case studies, Amy enjoys writing about food on her personal blog the most.
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