Monday, January 24, 2011

Performance Falls Short of Expectations

In previous blogs we have explored performance in the context of not giving the supervisor what they need or have asked for, and we have also discussed how most jobs are not designed to match the person’s strengths. In this blog, I’d like to focus on the supervisor and ways he/she can effectively deal with the internal struggle of a poor performer.

When performance issues surface, it is frustrating – to say the least. If you are a supervisor, you might do a classic “take-back”, or you might hover in hyper-vigilance in an attempt to avoid and/or catch the mistakes. If you are a co-worker who has been impacted – you may have the experience of smoldering frustration.

As a supervisor, a "take-back" is when you take something back that was on the employee’s plate and you move it to yours or to another employee. If you take the task back and give it to a co-worker - this action can cause the smoldering frustration to build to higher levels – depending on the situation. I’ve been guilty of a “take-back” or two myself, so I know just how hard it can be to allow someone to fail, but hovering and taking back are not always good solutions – for obvious reasons.

One way of addressing the situation can be exploring if there is a communication gap. A communication gap can cause things to get off kilter. It can even appear as if there is a performance issue, when it is actually a matter of communication, not performance. For example, I recently met with my team and learned that in setting goals some of my team members are visual and they need/ want a written plan that clearly articulates how they are going to achieve their objectives. For these team members the overarching objectives needed a more clearly defined way to reach them. I don’t need this, so I completely missed the need.

It is also important to recognize that in some ways performance is subjective rather than objective. A match to the supervisor is important. This can potentially be learned by the staff member, but sometimes they need the encouragement and guidance of their supervisor or the assistance of a trained coach.

Just remember if you are a supervisor poor performance is usually felt beyond you, so it is critical for you to successfully lead yourself through this in order to provide the leadership necessary for your team.