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Correcting Poor Performance Decision Tree


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Poor performance is readily apparent, but identifying and correcting poor performance can be tricky. Having a checklist or decision tree for identifying an correcting the cause for poor performance makes the task easier and more comprehensive:

Step 0: Is performance adequate?
Yes: No further action required
No: Go to step (1)

Step 1: Do Performance standards exist?
Yes: Go to step (2)
No: Establish Performance Standards. You can't expect people to perform at or above satisfactory levels if standards have not been established. Go to step (0)

Step 2: Have performance standards been communicated?
Yes: Go to step (3)
No: Communicate the performance standards. You may have expectations for satisfactory performance, but have you communicated your expectations to your staff? Most people can't read minds. Go to step (0)

Step 3: Are the performance standards understood?
Yes: Go to step (4)
No: Take the time to test for understanding once standards have been communicated. We may understand when we communicate standards for performance but that does not mean that others understand. Test for understanding by observing, asking questions, etc. Go to step (0)

Step 4: Do people have the skills to perform?
Yes: Go to step (5)
No: Provide training necessary to perform up to standard. Also, keep in mind when hiring, test for necessary skills. Go to step (0)

Step 5: Do people have the necessary resources to perform to standard?
Yes: Go to step (6)
No: Identify missing resources and provide them. If this is not possible, redefine performance expectations to match available resources. Go to step (0)

Step 6: Are corrective action plans in place?
Yes: Go to step (7)
No: Obtain agreement with person on the performance shortfall and have them submit to you an acceptable goal and corrective action plan to resolve the performance issues. Then track their progress on a regular schedule. Let the person define own the corrective action plan. Remember, if you dictate the actions, it is your plan, not theirs. Go to step (0)

Step 7: Do performance consequences exist?
Yes: Implement the consequences
No: Establish consequences for not correcting performance as well as for correcting performance. Go to step (0)

To obtain a flow chart of this decision tree, contact the author at his web site.

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 help businesses achieve goals in a more efficient and profitble manner. Check out Dr. Hill's web site at for more information on offered services.


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