One of the hardest decisions a manager ever has to make is what to do with the employee who is almost good enough. He(she) is almost up to speed. He’s almost meeting his sales targets. He’s almost getting his projects done on time. The quality of his work is almost there, etc.. These employees are so close to achieving your expectations you can almost taste it – but they never quite get there. Each month you think, “maybe next month he’ll make it.” But the next thing you know, six months have gone by and he’s still underperforming.
It’s a tough call. Do you keep cajoling, encouraging and training him, or do you lay down the law? The answer is tough, but simple – you lay down the law. The fact of the matter is, you can’t have a flexible standard – that’s an oxymoron. And if you continue to let an employee perform at even marginally substandard levels, it becomes unfair to those employees who are meeting your expectations. If you do nothing, you are basically giving him permission to not meet the goals.
Give him a time frame to pick up his performance. Give him any assistance and training that you can to try and help him acheive his targets, but make it clear that if he is not up to speed by the deadline, e will have to seek employment elsewhere.
It’s a win-win result for both you and the employee, regardless of the outcome. If he improves his performance, it resolves your challenge, and boosts his confidence. If he moves on to a job to which he is better suited, you are able to bring a higher-performing individual in, and he has a fresh new start.
[This is from the Archive Project – where we are attempting to get 10 years of Winning at Work on the web! Original publication date: 8 October, 2004]
Shaun Belding is CEO of The Belding Group and has been consulting and speaking on customer experience, employee engagement and workplace performance for 23 years