Underperforming staff not being dealt with? Why?

According to research just out from Roffey Park, 40% of managers surveyed said that below-par performance is not being properly dealt with.  Whether that’s an individual employee or an entire team, there’s a widespread view that people are not getting the job done right and are getting away with it.  Amongst several other stats cited, this is the one that has got me thinking.  Why isn’t underperformance being dealt with?  What’s stopping managers from having the conversation?

Could it be that they just don’t know how?

The report claims that ‘basic skills’ are a struggle for many managers.  It may be that when it comes to managing poor performance they simply don’t know where to start.  Imagine the building resentment, anxiety and stress experienced by the manager.  Imagine the bafflement or blissful ignorance on the part of the underperforming employee.  Bet they both can’t wait to show up for work and give their best effort.

Could it be that they simply don’t want to?

Bearing in mind this is a UK study, are the Brits just shriveling at the mere thought of having a potentially tricky conversation?  Could be.  If you treat colleagues more like mates, it can get particularly difficult to do the necessary.

Could it be that they don’t want to pile on the agony?

Roffey Park’s research also points to a big hike in the amount of ‘extra responsibility’ (for which read ‘work you now have to do’) being given to managers.  Sure, it can be a great way to develop people.  But with 61% of managers saying they’ve been given extra responsibility as a ‘development incentive’, and 41% saying they’ve been given ‘stretch assignments’ I’m wondering if it’s simply the case that the underperformers and their managers are crushed by a growing workload.  And as a result, the last thing the managers want to do is tell a direct report that they’re not up to the required standard.  They would rather tolerate underperformance than have a bad atmosphere, an upset employee and the prospect of ‘managing someone out of the business’ at a time when everyone is stretched very thin.

Could it be that we’re seeing an effect of ‘do more with less’ in these challenging times, and it’s showing up as a widespread drop in performance?  Or do these managers simply need to boost their skills and those of the people whose performance is ultimately their responsibility? 

Check out the original research here 

For a handy summary of the research check out People Management’s post here 


Related blog posts you may find useful:

Establish team ground rules  http://www.www.zoomly.co.uk/blog/?id=86


Delegation tip: give a clear brief http://www.www.zoomly.co.uk/blog/?id=75


Delegation tip: aim for dialogue when delegating http://www.www.zoomly.co.uk/blog/?id=76


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