There are so many simple solutions to working with under performing employees. We can simply get rid of them and find somebody else. We can sit down and demand they improve or else. We can do nothing and just simply accept the status quo. These alternatives also can take their toll on the rest of the team and your culture.
The key to ascertaining an under performing employees true dedication is to ask questions around the three levels of change: effort, progress, and results. The mistake managers make is when they simply focus only on results and this can be an exercise in insanity. Results cannot be achieved without initial effort and attained progress on a consistent basis. Management should want results that are predictable and consistent not ones that are demanded that may only provide inconsistent results.
Here are five questions you can ask in under performing employ that speak to these three levels of change:
1. If you had to describe the effort you are willing to make to turn things around successfully how would you go about describing that at this point? This is a behavioral-based question around the concept of effort and prompts them to provide an illustration of their commitment.
2. If your best friend or coworker were to describe areas where you've madeprogress what would they pinpoint and how can we use those areas of progressto move forward together successfully? This is the third party question that gets them to look at themselves through the filter of a third-party element and provides a framework for them to be more honest with themselves.
3. On a scale of 1 to 6 with six being absolute relentless dedication and one being fractional commitment how would you rate your emotional commitment to producing effort and ultimately progressing in the job? This is a rating question that provides insight to where they actually see themselves and you can react based on that interpretation.
4. Hypothetically, if you were to describe your emotional reaction if you were to achieve the results and goals specific to this job how would you honestly feel? This questions test their emotional commitment to the job and willingness to get better.
5. If you had to name three things you would do first to elevate your level of performance successfully what would those three things be and more importantly how would you describe your commitment level to each of those to produce better performance? This is a combination of a self-actualized and behavioral question.
The key to working with under performing employees is to first ascertain their willingness (Effort). Second, it is a manager's duty to identify not only effort but also the progress that is being made even though the progress is not yet producing the desired results. The number one thing that motivates employees today is a sense of progress according to Teresa Amabile at Harvard business school in her study where it stated 76% of employees felt most motivated when they were progressing in their job. Last, if we acknowledge effort and rewardprogress results become more sustainable and predictable.
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