Productivity and morale are the main casualties when organizations retain people who clearly aren’t doing their jobs. Worse, slackers drag down top performers, who ask themselves, “Why should I work hard if that guy is just skating?”
The Harvard Business Review suggests managers follow these three C’s to deal with an underperformer:
1. Converse. Before you address the issue of underperformance, find out the employee’s side of the story. Explain in concrete detail where the employee isn’t meeting the performance standards. Then listen.
Sometimes, an employee will explain that a personal issue prevents devoting full attention to work. If the employee has been a good performance, find ways to work around the issue.
2. Coach. Employees often underperform because they lack the necessary tools or training. It’s the manager’s job to provide on-the-job coaching.
Discuss the issue so that the employee understands where he’s falling short. Ask him to devise solutions for improvement. Talk about those solutions and agree on a timetable for improvement. Hold the person accountable by following up.
Document your decisions—and the employee’s actions—along the way.
3. Can. If there’s no improvement over the prescribed timetable, then you must deduce that the individual is not right for the job.
Note: Never just pawn off underperformers on another department; that simply kicks the issue over to another boss.