When an employee does not perform well on the job, the tendency is to immediately point a finger at the individual as being either incompetent or insubordinate. But think about it. What do employees need to be successful on the job?
Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the quality management guru who is credited for Japan’s economic recovery and superiority after the war, made this statement: “85% of an employee’s ability to perform successfully on the job depends upon the system.”
By the system, he meant the organizational structure, its policies and procedures, its culture, as well as its management style.
If an employee’s performance is not meeting established performance standards, there are two steps to take to determine if the organization is at fault.
Step #1. Check first to see if this is due to the system.
Was the job duty clearly defined? Was the job duty realistic? Was the employee adequately trained? Did the employee have the necessary resources? Were the job expectations clearly identified? Were the job expectations realistic? Was there appropriate monitoring? Was the employee given timely and constructive feedback? Was the employee given appropriate coaching to address any problems?
If not, remedy the situation. Either take the actions that were not previously taken, or waive the standards, if appropriate.
If all of these necessary system steps were taken, move on to the next considerations.
Were the duties changed or reassigned? Were priorities changed, so there was less time and opportunity to meet the standards?
If duties or priorities were changed, waive the standards.
If they were not changed, move on to the next category of possibility.
Step #2. Were there circumstances beyond the employee’s control that interfered with meeting the standards?
If there were, such as weather conditions or budgetary changes, waive the standards.
Only after taking Steps #1 and #2 is it appropriate to move on to the last considerations in Step #3, which we’ll look at in Part Two.
Indicate if you agree or disagree with taking these two steps before pointing a finger at a poorly performing employee.
May your learning be sweet.
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