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Five Steps To Upgrading Workforce Performance (Summary)

Dealing with slackers. Addressing various views on producing the most productive work environments, including reasons to remove low performing workers. Highlights CIO article on forced rankings. [Kaleem Aziz's blog at Ecademy]

Every employee is different, each produces their own value to the organization. Kaleem Aziz puts forward a controversial point about measuring an individuals performance, while asking some important questions. Like your customers, your workforce must be cultivated to produce the most valuable pool of resources possible.

The original article, How To Find, Fix Or Fire Your Poor Performers (CIO Magazine, 1 Nov 2003, Meridith Levinson), was received with mixed feelings. It provides real profiles of employees who received poor performance appraisals from Cheryl Smith, senior vice president and CIO of $57 billion McKesson Corp (MCK). Plus other practical examples of handling of poor performers.

The heart of the article is five steps to optimize workforce performance that will help you diagnose which type of under performer and decide if it's time for the individual to go (while protecting your company from lawsuits.) The original article provides more detail, summary with commentary follows:

  1. Use a performance appraisal system. A rigorous and uniform system that clearly outlines department goals with fair measures to consistently measure an individuals performance is a must. This system measures what defines success in a particular department, but is built from a corporate template to promote a uniform measure. Look at an employees match to a position, where training can improve performance, and strengths that contribute to objectives.
  2. Keep Human Resources (HR) in the loop. Bring any performance issues to the attention of HR as soon as they are identified. This helps manage the situation and tracks the interaction before speaking with an employee, especially if a conflict arises. If additional resources are necessary to address the deficiency with an employee, this is also a good time to gather these materials.
  3. Confront the employee. Begin by discussing an individuals performance with their supervisor, there may be a good reason the individual is falling short. Let the employee explain themselves and identify any obstacle impeding their performance based on the measured objectives. Demonstrate to the employee the impact their performance has on the rest of the organization.
  4. Shift the onus for improvement to the employee. Let the employee come up with an action plan to improve the situation, ultimately any performance improvement is up to them. You should recommend books, resources, and training programs that can help them reach their mark. If the employee denies there is a problem, then do what you feel is best to help them think about their individual situation. You can clearly identify the behavior to change, but it's the employee who must be ready to change, or move on to another company.
  5. Follow up frequently. Spend time checking on the employees progress while documenting all performance related conversations. Break down larger tasks into smaller weekly goals, tracking performance more frequently provides evidence of improvement if any exist. If an employee isn't making their weekly marks, how can they be expected to accomplish bigger changes. It might be time to let them go.

Senior Writer Meridith Levinson can be reached at mlevinson@cio.com.

/ employee-relations | management-strategy /

By Justin Hitt at November 27, 2003 8:44 PM  Subscribe in a reader

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