Poor employee performance is an early sign of disengagement and attrition. Use our framework to identify and deal with weak performance issues before it’s too late
Poor work performance is the biggest concern for most companies as they not only affect the overall organizational productivity but also brings down employee engagement and morale.
Many managers find it difficult and uncomfortable to deal with such employees, and they either try to ignore it or rush decisions that cause more harm than good.
Tackling poor employee performance with caution and care is a crucial part of a manager's responsibility. In this article, we will discuss the following to help you get to the root of the problem and help your employees perform better.
Bad employee performance is often the indication of the employee’s inability to maintain the organization’s standard, quantity, and quality of work.
It shows that the employee is unable to meet their targets and/or engage effectively with the team.
Poor performance can be behavioral or contextual.
As a manager, your job is to understand the employee’s perspective and figure out ways to help and support them.
But as you already know, performance conversations can be tricky. Which brings us to our next section
It is important to remember that in most cases poor work performance is often unintentional. The role of a manager is to identify the exact reasons and causes behind below expectation performance. A manager needs to formulate action plans to understand the precise reasons and issues that trigger poor performance and treat the issues immediately.
However, when a person is underperforming intentionally, it becomes evident in his actions and attitude towards instructions, response, and collaboration within the team. It is mandatory to provide honest feedback and take strict disciplinary actions in such cases.
Here’s an actionable guide that will help you address the issue in a structured way —
As a manager, you must reflect and analyze the following factors before addressing poor performance issues of an employee.
Before setting up a meeting with the employee, you need to have an open mind to discuss the concerns with transparency and honesty. Do not let emotions take control of the situation and make them worse. Discuss with the employee to review the assigned roles, responsibilities, targets, and expectations to create a master plan for improving performance.
Also read: Top 10 performance review tips for managers
A manager needs to address poor work performance with necessary data and facts to support his points of concern. Jumpstart a conversation with the employee’s view on his contributions and performance in the organization. It is critical that you bring clarity to your statements and communicate it to the employee.
During the meeting, refrain from heated arguments. Instead, use a positive tone and language. The employee must feel motivated and revamped after each discussion, not frustrated and depressed.
The basis of maintaining a healthy employee-manager relationship is to practice effective communication. Even a simple email to thank the employee for his time and contribution can go a long way. Feel free to reaffirm the points discussed and expectations set.
As a general rule of thumb, after a discussion on poor work performance —
Offering additional guidance and support to the employee after the tough appraisal meetings will spark positivity and optimism. Being consistent in following up with the employee and keeping him in the loop will make him involved and focused.
Below are some of the common practices to go deeper into employee performance issues and deal with them in a better and easier way.
Poor performance is evident when the gap between expectations and realities increases, and there is a lack of productivity, consistency, and involvement.
Let us look at some of the common causes of poor work performance —
Whether intentional or not, the root causes may point to some of the internal practices and policies of the organization. You must also initiate a formal discussion to identify the underperformance causes, and offer solutions at the earliest.
When you recognize poor performance, you must address it immediately. It helps to resolve the hinges quickly and easily. Some managers find it uncomfortable to have such discussions and delay feedback. Procrastination and delay will cause disengagement and negativity.
A quarterly or monthly performance review cadence solves this issue well. You can use these review sessions to —
Also read: Top 10 performance review tips for managers
Providing honest feedback to the employees during appraisals may seem strenuous; but it is vital that the manager discusses the issues with an open mind and points out the observations clearly.
The exemplary practice is to engage in constructive discussions during the performance review process — i.e. comparing reality against expectations and pinpointing the issues with solutions.
Honest feedback will help employee self awareness and rectify the shortcomings. Having an open discussion platform with required feedback will prompt the employee to open up their part of the story, leaving room for suggestions, corrections, and improvement.
Making employees accountable for their job is the best way to improve performance at work. A team fails when an employee underperforms and is disengaged from the team. Therefore, it is mandatory to set expectations and accountabilities in the early stage itself.
An employee starts to work smart when he is held accountable for his actions. It helps build trust, reliability, and internal collaboration within the department. The group becomes more engaged and achieve when they feel comfortable and spirited to support each other to achieve a common goal.
Another way to tackle poor performance at work is to recognize employee strength and reward them as and when needed. Timely recognition will boost the employee’s spirit and help him achieve more. When there is no proper recognition of talent and strengths, employees often feel demotivated and disengaged. Therefore, you need to acknowledge the accomplishments and good attitude of the employees at times. Not only that —
A performance improvement plan is needed to guide the employee after the appraisal. It is a documented workflow designed to improve the employee's performance and align him towards a new set of expectations and goals. It outlines the quality, quantity, and level of performance expected from an employee.
An action plan outlines —
A documented plan allows you to review the action plans continually to evaluate their effectiveness and success. Evaluating employee progress once in a while and offering timely suggestions will keep them motivated and focused. It is also critical to provide emotional and professional support when needed. It boosts their confidence and prompts them to come to you when in need.
Managers can use KPIs, appraisal forms, feedbacks, excel sheets, and PIP programs to track performance improvement to an extent. But having proper software to track the performance will be an added advantage. The software will automate the process with performance histories, review templates, check-in recommendations and other alerts.
Check out the 8 top performance management software in the market today (includes a buyer’s guide as well)
Clear organizational policies and practices will help the manager perform better. It will empower the manager to speak to the underperforming employees openly without emotional commotion.
A manager must convey criticism and dissatisfaction to the employees with honesty. It is your duty as a manager and your obligation to the company.
Honest opinions may trigger discomfort initially but will blend in gradually and open a platform for improvement. Strict disciplinary actions must be part of the policy that must be executed without discrimination or partiality.
Disciplinary actions may include oral warning, written warning, pay cuts, dismissal of incentives and perks, and termination of employment eventually.
The manager must not hesitate to take appropriate actions at the right time as it ultimately helps the organization improve its productivity and overall performance.
Each employee has a significant role in the success and failure of any organization. Therefore, it is the fundamental responsibility of a manager to identify underperformers without hesitation. Poor performance of an employee will bring failure to the team. Poor performance of the team will eventually add to the breakdown of the organization. Therefore, the sooner you deal with performance issues the better it is.
“Every employee can affect your company’s brand”- Tony Hseih, Former CEO, Zappos
Employee NPS is a key component for your organization if you wish to create a culture which engages, motivates and inspires employees and encourages them to recommend it to their friends. Here are a few quick points that you should not forget:
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritties of employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) and how you can use them effectively.
eNPS is or employee NPS is a measure of employee loyalty and how they feel about your organization. It is a scoring mechanism that employees can use to share their satisfaction/ dissatisfaction with the company culture, which in turn helps leaders to gauge the impact it will have on the organization.
The advent of eNPS came as a result of realizing that employees have an equal impact on an organization as the customers
For instance, if any employee leaves a bad review or reports a bad experience about your organization, it might act as a deterrent for other high performing candidates from applying to your organization.
In a nutshell, eNPS is one of the top tools you can use to gauge how satisfied your employees are with your company culture and measure whether or not your employee engagement and other efforts are actually bearing fruits.
You can calculate the eNPS for your organization by subtracting the percentage of promoters from the percentage of detractors. Let’s quickly understand what this means.
You will start by asking your employees to rate their experience on a rating scale of 0-10. You can have questions like ‘How likely are you to recommend the organization to your peers or friends, on a scale of 0-10’. We will talk more about potential questions in subsequent sections. Depending on their experience, your employees will share their rating. Based on the rating, you can segment your employees into three categories:
eNPS= %of promoters - %of detractors
For instance, if your organization has a total of 100 employees and 61 are promoters, 18 are detractors and 21 are passives, then your eNPS= 61%-18% = 43
The higher the eNPS, the more advocates you have. This suggests you will have an ecosystem of high percentage of employees that are loyal, inspired, motivated and committed.
For growing organizations like yours there are several reasons why eNPS matters to create a sustainable workplace. Such as —
Research shows that the majority of candidates read six reviews before forming an opinion about a company and 70% of people look to reviews before they make career decisions
With employee NPS, you will know how likely your employees are to recommend your organization to others outside. This ensures employer branding which determines the quality of talent you will be able to attract.
By ensuring a good Net Promoter Score from employees, you will be able to manage the reviews effectively.
Employee NPS is very easy to execute, fast and cost-effective. At the same time, it gives you a clear picture of who are the advocates for your organization vs those who are disengaged and are unlikely to make recommendations. This information has two-fold benefits:
It is very rare that an employee will one day decide to leave your organization out of nowhere. Often, the decision to quit starts in advance and can be attributed to several factors including disengagement and dissatisfaction. eNPS, conducted regularly, can help you anticipate potential turnover in advance, when the employee rates low on the eNPS survey. You can use this data to fine tune your engagement plan and identify and address specific challenges.
🚀 Predict and prevent turnover with employee experience surveys by SuperBeings. Learn more
As stated above, eNPS directly impacts the quality of the talent you attract. Similarly, it also impacts how fast you are able to close an open position. If you have a high eNPS, you will receive a higher inflow of applications because your organization will be branded as a preferred place to work. This higher number of applications will translate to faster interviews and closures. Invariably, this will prevent the loss of work hours between transitions.
Finally, eNPS can help you track employee loyalty and engagement over time. If individual and overall employee NPS increases, it reflects that your interventions are moving the needle. However, if the score drops, you may need to relook at your practices and understand the root cause.
As mentioned before, employee NPS is generally measured with eNPS surveys. Therefore, like any other feedback cycle, your eNPS surveys should also follow a structured and cyclical approach. Here are to create an effective eNPS survey process —
Make your eNPS ratings confidential and anonymous. Do not force your employees to give names along with ratings or do not disclose ratings of one to another even if you know who it is from. One of the easiest ways is to use a platform that doesn’t capture respondent data, except the rating. Anonymity will help build employee trust and ensure honesty in the rating received
Refrain from adding too many questions in your eNPS rating. A maximum of 2-3 questions is more than enough. While most organizations use 1 central or core question, you can supplement it with another one to augment impact. For instance, one question can be about probability to recommend, while the other could be on motivation, inspiration.
Having an eNPS rating at regular intervals is important. Ideally, as a growing organization, you should have a monthly cadence. However, if that seems overwhelming, you can start with a quarterly rating, and gradually increase the frequency.
While a 2 or 5 point rating scale can also capture data, a 10 point scale and open ended questions enable employees to be more specific about their answer by giving them more options to choose from. The deeper your eNPS survey insights are, the more accurate actions you can take to improve your score.
Just because responding to an eNPS question requires one click, you cannot assume that you’ll receive 100% participation. You must follow up a couple of times. Using employee survey tools to increase survey participation rate can be useful here. For example, SuperBeings sends reminders and follow up nudges at preset intervals via existing chat tools (Slack, Teams, Gchat etc) directly in the flow of work to maximize response rate.
Finally, you must encourage your employees to be honest in their rating. Anonymity will help you achieve this. Additionally, explain to your employees that the answers will not have an impact on their appraisal and their negative rating will not land them in a backlash.
As a best practice, you can start your employee NPS survey with a core question and then you could follow it up with a few open ended questions. Your first question must follow a rating pattern to get your employee Net Promoter Score. Some of the questions can be:
Here are a few best practices you can use while preparing your follow up questions:
While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact score which can be considered good, there are a few ways to measure how well your performance has been on eNPS.
If you look closely, by formula, your score can range from -100 to +100, depending on the ratio of your promoters and detractors. Generally, any positive score, that is, a score above 0 is considered to be a good starting point. This indicates that there are more promoters in your organization than detractors. This translates to the fact that more employees are likely to recommend your organization than those who will not.
However, only a positive score is not the end of the story. While a positive score represents retention and recommendation, the higher the score, the greater will be propensity and impact.
Furthermore, you must also align your eNPS with other organizations in your industry. For instance, while 60 might be a great score, if all organizations in your industry have an eNPS of 70+, then you may need to relook at your numbers.
Here, studying industry benchmarks can help. However, eNPS is not a data point that is publicly available that you can consume.
At the same time, your own eNPS can also be a benchmark for you over time with an aim to increase every time. The idea is to track your own company’s fluctuation, positive or negative, to identify the reasons or interventions behind the same.
eNPS surveys can disillusion even the most people friendly organizations. It is not rare to have a survey score below expectations. But improving eNPS is easier than you think:
You must have heard that what gets measured, gets improved. The same is true for eNPS. When you capture employee NPS on a regular basis, you can track fluctuations and gauge whether or not the needle is moving. You can get a real time picture of whether the promoters or the detractors are increasing. Furthermore, the fluctuations can help you identify how specific interventions or regular organizational activities impact eNPS.
No matter what the results say, share it with your team members. Even if you have a negative score, share it with the team to facilitate collaborative thinking on what is going wrong. This will help you create an image that you are truly listening to your employees and are taking action. After sharing results, follow up and communicate the next action steps so your employees know that their voices are being heard and impact is being created.
To improve eNPS, you need to understand the rationale or the reason behind each rating. Here, you should ask follow up questions to your employees on what contributed to this particular rating. On one hand, it will help you understand the motivation or the inspiration for promoters as well as you will be able to identify what is stopping detractors from recommending the organization to others.
Put simply, the factors mentioned by promoters can be augmented and focused on, while those from detractors must be addressed or resolved
Once you share the results and engage in collective brainstorming, you must take action.
If you think that you only need to focus on detractors to improve your eNPS, you are mistaken. While you definitely need to pay attention to them, the other two segments, i.e. promoters and passives must not be left attended.
When it comes to improving your eNPS, there is no stopping point. Just because you improve your eNPS by 20 points, doesn’t mean you have reached the pinnacle, even if you are above the industry average.
Employee Net Promoter Score must be a part of a more comprehensive employee feedback framework. The idea is to get more qualitative feedback and insights to compliment the score. You can use open-ended survey comments for this purpose. Such feedback will help you understand where the score came from and how you can take steps to move in the right direction.
Finally, to improve your eNPS, you need to focus on the passives. Based on the formula, you might think that passives have no role to play in eNPS. However, you must understand that they are just one point away from falling in the detractor or the promoter category. Here, your focus should be on moving them up the spectrum. Getting qualitative inputs from them is very important as they have some level of commitment and positive regard towards the organization already.
With eNPS, you can turn employee feedback into a growth strategy both as a business and as an employer. Here’s how:
First, employee NPS boosts the morale of employees who believe that their voice has value and is being heard. It makes employees feel included in the process of building the right culture. Employees who participate in eNPS come with a sense of pride as being a contributor to building the overall experience in the organization. It also comes with a sense of respect when an organization asks the employees for their perception.
Low or negative eNPS is a clear indicator of the level of disengagement. It shares an inverse relationship.
Lower the eNPS, higher will be the disengagement
Obviously, only when employees feel disengaged at work, will they not recommend it to others in their network. This can act as initial information for your organization to create strategic plans to reverse the trend. Furthermore, fluctuations in eNPS can be useful when it comes to sudden disengagement which may not be very apparent, but can lead to mass turnover.
A deep dive into the qualitative aspects of eNPS can help you understand the factors contributing to engagement or disengagement. For instance, if a promoter claims that they gave a high score because of the focus on wellness, it becomes clear that wellness programs can augment engagement. Similarly, if the reason for a detractor is high workload, effective distribution can help improve engagement levels.
Creating, communicating and analyzing employee surveys can be intimidating and time taking. To conduct eNPS in a comprehensive and hassle free manner, you can partner with SuperBeings. Here’s what you get with our employee engagement survey feature —
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do with our engagement survey tool. At SuperBeings, we are constantly trying to improve the engagement processes and make it easier for the people leaders.
Need a helping hand? Talk to our product expert. 💡
“Most organizations fail to manage performance effectively because they fail to look into the system holistically.” - Pearl Zhu, Author of Performance Master
The impact of having an effective performance management system goes way beyond hitting quarterly targets, it also facilitates employee development, high levels of retention and a high performance culture.
Yet sadly, most organizations do not spend nearly as much time and resources into planning and developing a wholesome performance management process as they do chasing goals.
In this article, we break down the components of an efficient performance management system and how you can achieve them in 7 easy steps.
We spoke with several HR practitioners and below are the 7 steps they recommend to build a super effective performance management system.
But before that, it’s important to understand that —
Improving performance is a collective responsibility. And it starts with shifting the mindset around performance — from appraisal to improvement, from annual to continuous.
As HR leader and author of Nothing About Business says —
“Performance management is so tightly integrated with the business that Business has no option but to do it on its own.”
First, you need to start with a continuous approach to make your performance management effective. Simply relying on traditional approaches of annual check-ins, feedbacks and reviews will have limited impact considering the dynamic and volatile market ecosystem. To adopt a continuous approach for effective performance management, you should:
Read our detailed article on Continuous Performance Management to learn more.
Next, a major component of strategic performance management is capturing and analyzing performance feedback. You need to ensure that your employees are offered adequate and comprehensive feedback on their performance and areas of development are worked on.
You can use our Performance Review Phrases template for such performance feedback recommendations.
At the same time, there should be focus on seeking feedback from your employees for self evaluation and to understand what they feel about their work and the organizational culture as a whole.
Here adopting an employee feedback tool can enable you to find success easily. It can help you to not only capture feedback, but also generate insights and share heatmaps on how certain areas of performance can be improved, which is essential for finding success with your performance management initiatives.
A good performance management goes way beyond just reviews and evaluations on how the performance of an employee has been. You need to equip all your line managers and leaders within the organization to conduct powerful and meaningful 1:1 conversations with their team members.
The right conversations have the potential to preempt any potential risk of turnover, drop in productivity, low levels of motivation etc.
Once you have been able to identify any potential challenge, you need to ensure that the conversations take a new avatar. The idea is to have conversations that can address the surfacing risks.
However, conducting directed conversations on different challenges can be overwhelming at times. Therefore, you may want to leverage a guided 1:1/ Meetings tool to train and equip your managers.
Based on the feedback, conversations, reviews, surveys that you conduct, you will have a clear picture of what factors are promoting high performance and which ones are deterrents. The latter ones form the areas of development and learning opportunities. You need to identify these areas of intervention and provide your employees with adequate resources and support to hone the skills and competencies that are needed for effective performance.
Pulse surveys can be an effective way to gauge employee sentiment on a regular basis.
Frequent pulse surveys are excellent for understanding how employees feel about their current capabilities vis-a-vis their role and the external support they need.
Ideally, you can also look at industry benchmarks to understand the types of learning opportunities available for different roles and provide them to your employees.
Thus, to make the most of your performance management, you need to identify and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of your organization as a collective measure of your employees and work towards them.
While effective performance management requires learning and development interventions, it is equally important to focus on guidance via mentoring and coaching. Your employees need the right mentorship to help them navigate through professional challenges that may not require upskilling but a change in mindset. Here setting up a formal mentorship program can contribute to effective performance management.
You can also enable your managers to provide the right mentorship and coaching support. You can count on SuperBeings to help you ensure the same.
Undoubtedly, a key step for effective performance management is to navigate collaborations for different aspects of the employee lifecycle. You need to adopt the right tool to capture employee pulse, feedback, review, facilitate continuous performance improvement and much more. Fortunately, today you can find all these features in a unified solution to relieve yourself from the costs of different tools and the added administrative hassles.
The last and the final step for effective performance management is to ensure that you recognize and reward a job well done. This will catalyze a high performance culture by positively reinforcing those who performed well and encouraging others to improve their performance in a bid to achieve rewards and incentives. A few things to keep in mind:
Before we finish, let’s quickly discuss the tangible benefits you will get if you have a solid performance management system. This will help you build a stronger case for performance management and secure leadership buy-in.
Efficient performance management can help you in facilitating the right development opportunities for your employees. Based on a combination of expectations, feedback and conversations, you can enable your team members to grow in their professional journey. This will also facilitate higher retention.
94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.
Effective performance management has the potential to create an equal impact on organizational success. When the performance of the teams and individuals increases, it will invariably positively impact the organization as a whole. As employee performance becomes better, productivity, quality of work and other related parameters also improve and impact the bottom line. Furthermore, it leads to creation of a high performance culture. Research shows, that good company culture could help you increase revenue by more than four times
If your organization is growing fast, you may have financial and budget constraints to spend towards employee development and training.
47% of HR leaders are not aware of employee skill gaps, and 60% of HR leaders say that building new skills and competencies will be their top performance management priority.
An efficient performance management process can help ensure that you are able to allocate your resources to interventions that actually make an impact and eventually monitor, track and measure the return on investment.
Performance management goes beyond feedback and performance evaluation. In fact, it actually starts with creating a clarity of expectations.
Most fast growing organizations are chasing multiple priorities and this leads to a confusion among employees on what is expected out of them. In fact, only 50% of employees would “strongly agree” they know what’s expected of them at work. A practical performance management process can help you and your managers create a clear path for employees with a focus on OKRs to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Finally, performance management sets the stage for greater levels of engagement and a better employee experience. When employees feel valued and believe that you are taking genuine interest in helping them grow, the motivation, morale and commitment is bound to rise. As a result, they will be more engaged at work which will eventually show in their performance, productivity and quality of work. The impact on the bottom line is also phenomenal.
Companies with a highly engaged workforce are 21% more profitable
Use the following resources to get started on everything you have learned so far —
And finally, to see how SuperBeings can help, talk to one of our experts today.
It is no longer an assumption that the traditional approach to annual goal setting and review has run its course. The VUCA world demands more quick and adaptable business models.
While the agile values and methodology was initially created for software delivery, you can apply the same to transform how you set and achieve your business goals.
In this article, we will focus on:
Traditionally, goal setting has been a very static and long-term process for organizations. Here are a few key components of traditional goal setting and performance management:
This form of goal setting and performance management had relevance for organizations operating in steady and stable market conditions.
However, in today’s VUCA world, the pace of change is skyrocketing and organizations unable to tide with the same are finding it extremely difficult to survive, let alone thrive.
Some of the reasons to reimagine goal setting for VUCA world include:
While it may not be apparent in the first look, agile and OKRs are quite complementary and combining the two can be a great step for growing organizations. Here’s why —
Here are a few reasons why you should combine agile and OKRs for your organization:
Now that it is clear why working agile and OKRs together makes sense for growing organizations, let’s quickly explore the top ways in which you can apply agile techniques to your OKR framework to make goal setting and performance management suitable for the VUCA world.
In this last section of agile and OKR for better goal setting and performance management, we will uncover the top framework.
We have combined the best components of different frameworks like waterfall goals, delivery agile, scaling, full stack agile, into a single framework with 5 major components that can help you enhance the complementary potential of agile and OKR
This approach can help you leverage the benefits of agile methodologies and OKR framework to impact all aspects of organizational structure for achievement of goals, including the culture, strategy, initiatives, tactics, etc. The framework is premised on:
If you are struggling with combining agile and OKRs for your organizations, chances are you are focusing on activity based key results which often resemble agile steps, leading to confusion and inability to meet goals.
For instance, if you have an event coming up and wish to successfully execute the same, the objective will be common, with specific value based key results for each team.
If you look closely, while the objective is shared, key results are spread across sales, marketing, and even product/ services teams
Your agile and OKR framework should enable you to get the best of both worlds when it comes to results. Agile results by nature are qualitative in nature and focus on the features that you wish to ascertain in a specific period of time. On the other hand, OKRs are driven by metrics. Thus, you can use a combination of the two for effective results:
The combination can help you create an ideal balance between outputs and outcomes which are both critical when it comes to goal achievement and performance management.
Using data and not relying solely on opinions will help you set agile OKRs which don’t under or over estimate the goals. For instance, if the market data on traffic to a new website in your industry is 20,000 clicks in one week, your OKR can focus on reaching 25,000 to make it aspirational but achievable up to 80%.
However, if you set the target at 50,000 or above, it will become too far fetched and the team might not even strive for it. On the flip side, if the target is only at 10,000, it will not encourage your employees to push the boundaries. Thus, you need to replace opinions and command OKRs with data backed experimentation.
Self organizing teams are important for growing organizations as they proactively take onus and ownership of achieving OKRs and lead to a greater degree of success. Step away from controlling detailed plans for each OKR and encourage the leadership to provide direction.
To conclude, if you combine agile and OKR, you have for yourself a clear model for success which you can easily apply to goal setting and performance management. Having the right technology to support your rapidly changing businesses processes is a must for any organization looking to thrive in a VUCA world. With SuperBeings you can:
💡If interested, you can talk to one of our product experts to find out if SuperBeings can help you solve your specific challenges. We keep the call short at 15 minutes.