Developing Non-Performers into High Performers

The discussion was getting heat­ed up and finally the decision seemed to have been made. “I think it is time for me to let go of Amitesh. Over a period
21 Jul 2018 11:00
Developing Non-Performers into High Performers
Mayur Kalbag

The discussion was getting heat­ed up and finally the decision seemed to have been made.

“I think it is time for me to let go of Amitesh. Over a period of almost a year he has shown no improvement in his work-performance,” Mohan Ka­pur, the senior manager for sales was explaining this to his general manager, Kevin Roberts.

“Despite my stern and harsh scolding and even a warning to better his per­formance there has been no positive change that I see in his work as well as in his attitude. I am left with no other option but to ask him to go”

“Mr Mohan, are you sure you want to do this? Amitesh has been with us for more than five years and it is only in the last year that he been a non-per­former,” Mr Roberts asked.

“I know and empathise with you. I understand your frustration in hav­ing a non-performing member in your team and how it is negatively affecting not only your own performance but also the performance of your entire sales department.

“Having said this, as your senior, I still believe that you must do some­thing more than simply getting rid of Amitesh.”

Mr Roberts’s words made Mr Kapur think or rather re-think about his deci­sion.

“I will give myself another week to make my final decision, sir,” Mr Kapur told his boss and left the cabin.

That evening while having dinner Mr Kapur shared all this with his elder brother, Rajan, who, after listening to everything offered his response.

“Dear Mohan, can I ask you a simple question?”

“Yeah sure,” Mr Kapur replied.

“If you have planted ten seeds and over a period of time nine of them grow at a steady pace and there is one that is slow in its growth. What will you do? Will you simply pluck it off and throw it away or will you try to find the reason for it growing slowly? What will you honestly do?”

Mr Kapur heard his brother patiently and then replied: “To be honest, we are not talking about plants and flowers.

“This is about an employee who has not been performing and I cannot deal with non-performers.”

“That’s where you are completely wrong” his brother replied.

“First foremost I think you must try to understand the substance of what I had said about the slow-growing plant.

“One of the main responsibilities of a manager in any organisation is to be able to use his or her skills and attitude to convert a non-performer into an ex­cellent performer and I wish to share some of the ways you can do it.”

RCA’ or Root-Cause- analysis

When you find that there is a team member who seems to have dipped in his or her performance at work the first thing you must do is not jump to wrong conclusions or make impulsive assumptions.

What is most appropriate is to con­duct a RCA.

This means that you must use your interactive and intelligent ways to find out the ‘real’ or root reason or reasons for the person’s non-performance.

How can you do the root cause analy­sis? One-to-one interaction is the an­swer and it really can help.

In this interaction you, as a manager you must be less of a ‘talker’ and more of a listener.

You must create an atmosphere of fearlessness and comfortability for the person to open out with his or her thoughts and mainly his or her rea­sons for not performing up to expecta­tions.

Remember, a good performer also has to go through challenges in his or her personal as well as professional life and this might affect his or her attitude towards work.

Hence it is all the more important to give him or her the opportunity to freely share and even reveal the real reasons.

Here, I would also like to say that there are some who do not feel com­fortable to open up to their managers and hence, in such scenarios, you must have the root cause analysis done by some other person rather than your­self.

Motivation and mentoring: every employee’s performance is primarily measured by the combination of his or her attitude towards work and his or her competency or skills and some­times despite both these parameters being there the person might still be unable to reach the peak of his or her performance especially due to a major lack of self-motivation or self-confi­dence.

For me, motivation is one of the main motors for success and many a times I have seen that managers do not look at motivation as an important tool to en­hance or boost the performance of his team members.

I wish to therefore request that man­agers must, especially for the non-per­formers, initiate certain actions which will boost up their self-motivation and thereby push them to become better at their work.

SWOT analysis and action plan creation

At least once in three months please make all your team members create their SWOT.

SWOT represents four important pil­lars for enhancing personal and pro­fessional performance and these are namely, strength-weaknesses-opportu­nities-threats.

In one of my earlier columns I have specifically highlighted upon these.

In short I would request you, as a manager, to help and motivate all your team members and especially the non-performing ones to introspect and then create their own SWOT.

The SWOT will also make them cre­ate their own clear action plans which they would subsequently execute and help them improve upon their perfor­mance.

Training and learning – this is some­thing that will be great for not just the non-performers but also for all the em­ployees and team members.

One of the reasons for non-perfor­mance is lack of new knowledge.

Yes! Sometimes people stop growing in their knowledge and this itself stops them from growing professionally.

Hence it is vital that the manager ei­ther trains his team members or sends them for different and developmental training sessions or seminars or even conferences so as to give them the op­portunity to learn something new and positive which could thereby help then enhance their overall performance.

Don’t get angry, get excited. Finally, I wish to say that the non-performance of any person can be frustrating to you but this is your real test.

The real challenge for you is to con­vert your anger or frustration into an emption of ‘constructive excitement’.

Look at the person as an opportunity for you to use all your managerial and leadership skills to bring a positive change.

The final choice is yours to make, whether to keep the non-performing employee in your department or ask him or her to leave the organisation.

What will be extremely satisfying is when you feel that you have tried all your best in converting the non-per­former into a high performer and not giving up so easily.


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