3 Steps to Turning Around a Poor Performing Employee

Have you ever been driving somewhere and gotten hopelessly lost? One moment you were sailing along and then you realized you were headed in the wrong direction and had no idea how to get yourself turned around.

It was never your intention to get off course, was it? Maybe you lost your concentration and focus and missed an exit. Perhaps you got confused on the directions you were given, but you didn’t plan on wasting time and energy struggling to get back on the right path.

The next time you conduct an employee performance discussion, it might be useful to keep that analogy in mind. Here are three steps to orchestrate a memorable performance discussion to turnaround a poor performing employee.

Step 1: Review the Course

Once we’re lost, it’s a good idea to stop and get our bearings. Take a breath, pull out the map and review the original course. That’s a good way to start off an employee performance discussion, too. Where did your employee begin and where were they originally headed?

Take a few minutes to review your employee’s “journey.” Review the progress they’ve made since starting.  Along the way your employee collected critical skills and a fundamental understanding of their position. How far were they able to go before they got turned around? Use this part of the discussion to commend them for aspects of their job they handled proficiently.

Step 2: Identify Where They Missed Their Turn

Chances are, your employee didn’t go off track immediately, but something about their performance got your attention. Identify when they first started to veer off course. For example, up until last month, your employee was always punctual. Now you’ve noted they’ve been coming in several minutes late each morning. Be specific about where they are and discuss the importance of them getting back on track.

Step 3: Draw Them a New Map

After reviewing the objectives of your employee’s position and where they went off-track, create an action plan to take them from where they are to where they need to be. You’ll have to determine how much assistance they’ll require.

Use this time to solicit from the employee what they think needs to happen to improve their performance. Do they need additional training? Make notes of the specific actions they suggest. Make sure you’re in agreement about the road ahead and that you’ve given them the tools they need to succeed – clear instructions, regular signposts and positive feedback.

Leave a Reply