USAA Tips: Coach an employee who is not performing

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

Helping employees improve their performance is a key identifier of a great leader. An even greater leader notices when an employee’s performance begins to dip or not match the rest of the team and moves immediately to step in and resolve the situation. Leaders that want to turn around an employee’s job performance need to begin with an attitude that employees want to succeed in their jobs.

No one sets out to perform poorly at their job. For a leader, this is a vital realization that often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Employees want to perform well and if they are not performing well, they get frustrated.

The first step to help an employee turn around their performance is to have a clear, impartial, and example-filled session on their current job performance. The examples are a critical part of this meeting because the leader has to compare / contrast instances where the employee did and did not meet the standard and specifically what they need to do to resolve their performance to meet the standard. The ability to describe in detail a clear, understood, and universal standard of job performance is vital to both the struggling employee and the workplace team. If a leader is unhappy with a person’s performance but cannot offer a clear and concise description comparing employee performance to an identified standard that is universal in the organization, then the leader is the one that needs help, not the employee. Clear, identified, and universal job standards are vital elements to high employee and job performance standards.

The next step is to identify a learning plan based on the areas where the employee has the greatest performance variation against the identified standards. It is essential that the learning plan incorporate the learning style of the employee. If the employee is a hands-on learner, then a lecture or video training will be inadequate. Additionally, there must be a minimum of three to four training sessions scheduled at least a week apart to give the employee time and practice to correct their performance.

The final step is to respectfully monitor, coach, retrain, and continue to develop the employee in all areas and not just the area where they needed help. Employees will improve, but depending on the skill set, the amount of confidence, and the complexity of the task, some more time may be required. It's essential to look for areas where the employee can contribute more to the organization. For example, an employee that performs poorly in accounting tasks may have an incredible disposition for resolving customer complaints. The task for the leader is to both correct the employee’s accounting skills to an adequate level and to get the employee into a customer service role where they can thrive.

Employees must be respected, held to an understood and universal standard, and developed to surpass their workplace challenges. True leaders look to standards to clearly identify areas of improvement and then use coaching, training, development, and monitoring to create an even better employee.