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Correcting Poor Performance


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Having to deal with poor employee performance is not a favorite management task. Perhaps it is because it is perceived as delivering bad news, as a negative event, or not wanting to be the bearer of bad news. Resist the temptation to tell the employee how to correct the poor performance. Instead, let the employee determine their own acceptable action plan to resolve the performance issue. Keep it simple by addressing the following 3 key activities to transfer ownership to the employee.

Identify the performance issue

It should be obvious to never criticize an employee in front of others. The least this will accomplish is to embarrass the employee and create resentment towards you. Stay focused on the specific performance shortfall and avoid blame. Remember, we want to fix the problem, not the blame! Reach agreement on the shortfall (not the reasons) with the employee before proceeding.

Identify reasons for the shortfall

Have the employee identify the reasons for the shortfall and separate the reasons in to two categories: (1) Those the employee can not control and (2) Those the employee can control. If you can assist with those issues beyond employee control, offer your assistance. If the issue is also beyond your control, adjust the expected performance to take this into account.

Determine corrective actions

For those issues the employee can control, let the employee determine how and when he or she will correct the performance shortfall in an acceptable manner. Establish follow up review meetings as necessary to review progress. This gives the employee ownership in the solution.

Ronald Hill has successfully held a wide variety of management positions (Engineering, Sales, Marketing and general management including President & CEO of both public and private companies). His primary expertise is his ability to sort through complex issues and identify and remain focused on the top three critical factors for achieving success. Go to for more information on offered services.


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