Poor performance is the enemy of success and growth.
When we work with clients we hear the same problem arising again and again. Poor performance is causing managers stress, time and draining resources. They would be successful if only everyone did what they said they would do, in the way they should do it. It is so easy to spot poor performance. If you don’t believe me then just go to the coffee room and there will be a queue of people who will happily share what the problems are.
It should be a no brainer, if something isn’t working then you should try and improve or fix it. Yet often Managers don’t and then spend time fixing the issues that arise from the poor performance. This results in a culture of perpetual reactions, firefighting and in a constant state of stress. Seems bonkers doesn’t it?
Tom had worked at the firm for 10 years. There was nothing he didn’t know about his department, so when an opportunity came up to manage the team, he jumped at it. He seemed like a safe bet. After 3 months in the post his own Manager had started to get complaints and grumblings from the team, sickness levels had increased and performance had dropped. The atmosphere was tense, strained and frantic.
The Manager knew the issues but felt that Tom needed time to settle in, make his own mark and not be undermined. Quite simply, the manager didn’t want to tackle the poor performance. He had all the right intentions, but the impact was horrendous. Toms impact on his own team was now impacting the wider business, and the bottom line. 12 months after the appointment, when nothing else could be done, Tom was fired.
Surely we can all see that it could have all been so different?
I spent many sessions with the Manager helping him gain total clarity over what had happened and how he found himself in this situation.
- Fear of conflict: He was an empowering Manager, but in truth he feared challenge and conflict. He wanted everyone to get along and feel happy to such a degree that he never wanted to cause a negative impact. He is not alone, many people fear conflict so much that they would rather settle for under performance.
- Too many priorities: Many of our day to day urgent tasks are reactions to problems which could be avoided. Poor performance creates problems. Problems create issues. Issues become urgent and important and so the cycle continues. As a manager, your role is to plan, organise, delegate and monitor/feedback. There is no bigger priority in your business than poor performance.
- Lack of feedback: Many businesses simply don’t do feedback. They don’t do the positive or negative feedback, and may stack it all up for the annual appraisal. A culture of feedback is a culture of continual improvement. This is the secret of highly successful companies. They stay ahead by continually improving their products, systems, service and their people. This starts with feedback.
- Wishful thinking: Burying your head in the sand and hoping it will all turn out fine is the realm of the fool. As a leader you need wisdom and reality. You also need to be a role model. If you don’t address poor performance, then you are setting the culture and tone of how things are done in your company. It is time to take personal responsibility for your business performance.
Take action and take responsibility for the culture you are creating and start addressing poor performance now.