Pick up the slacker

5 tips from Eitan Sharir, president of culture and organizational performance at Dynamic Achievement Group, a corporate culture, leadership and performance consultancy in West Vancouver, and Danielle van Jaarsveld, associate professor and division chair of organizational behaviour and human resources at UBC’s Sauder School of Business

DIY 11. Identify the cause
“The factors could be related to their coworkers, their supervisor, a lack of training or something in their personal life,” van Jaarsveld says. Being underchallenged or overworked can affect performance. “You have a reliable employee, you give them more and more work, and other employees aren’t being given as much work, and they feel put upon, and they pull back their effort,” explains von Jaarsveld. Sharir recommends determining “the gap between what is currently being delivered and what you actually want.”  

DIY 2

2. Define clear goals
Develop a plan—it could be a 60-, 90- or 120-day performance development program—with clear tasks, goals and outcomes, Sharir advises. “If you think of a top sports team, every player knows exactly what the goal is, and they’re very clear on what is expected of them,” he notes. “Asking the employee to come to the meeting with a self-assessment can be very instructive to you as a manager,” van Jaarsveld says. “It can also help to reduce the employee’s anxiety about the discussion and provide them with a voice in the process.”


DIY 33. Support the employee
Meet formally at least every two weeks to check on progress and help the person to stay on track and focused on the goal, Sharir says. “You can assign an accountability buddy to work with them during that period, someone who is really doing well so it’s one of their team members rather than just the manager,” he adds. “When you’re delivering the feedback, make sure that you’re focusing on the behaviour and/or the results, not the person,” van Jaarsveld warns.

DIY 44. Take notes
“Sometimes you’re in a situation where you have to make that hard decision that this individual is not capable of performing at levels that this organization expects,” van Jaarsveld says. “Then you need to have documentation that these meetings have taken place, you’ve provided the individual with feedback about their performance, and so as a manager you’ve met your obligations and responsibilities as an employer to help the employee try to improve their performance and provide them with support to do that.”

5. Decide on next stepsDIY 5
If the employee is performing and doing what they’re supposed do, keep on supporting them. If not, “you now have to look for alternative options—maybe a different role, maybe a different company,” Sharir says. “One more thing that I would look at here is return on investment,” he adds. “How much are we willing to invest in the employee to continue with this process when we have already invested coaching and a program and meetings and they’re not performing? Are we willing to continue to invest in them or not?” 

ILLUSTRATIONS: VICTORIA PARK