It’s a new age in business. Put the stick away!

It's a new age in business. Put the stick away!

The girl was sobbing!

Her manager told her she was not performing and was to be put on a performance plan.

The girl tried to explain that she had some personal issues, but she didn’t feel comfortable talking in detail about her extremely volatile relationship and the daily struggle she had with her mental health.

She didn’t think her manager would care anyway. After all, they hadn’t made any effort in getting to know her so far. It was all about “key performance indicators”. Why would it change now?

She felt sick and alone…

I get really disheartened when I hear stories of people managers having extremely poor leadership skills.

Using a ‘stick’ to beat staff into working is antiquated and no longer effective. In fact, it’s counterproductive!

I can assure you there is no positive effect gained from chastising employees or putting them on performance plans, unless the outcome you want is for them to be stressed out, demotivated, have poor morale and low self-esteem and make even more mistakes and second-guess themselves.

There are far more effective and humane ways to understand and solve why an employee is underperforming.

In my experience, if an employee is not performing, it is generally for one or more of the following reasons (noting I may miss some important points). I’ve also taken the liberty of sharing how a great leader would respond:

Reason for Underperformance Appropriate Response
They’re overwhelmed at work
How can I help?
They’re overwhelmed at home
I’m sorry to hear things are overwhelming for you at home. What do you need from me to make things easier for you?
Something is going on for them in their personal lives
Thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate that would have been hard for you and I’m grateful for your trust in me. What support do you need from me?
How can we support you so you can recover? You’re welcome to take whatever time you need
They haven’t been trained properly
I’m sorry we let you down. Let’s work on teaching you the right way together
The processes are complicated or confusing
I’m sorry we let you down. Show me where the procedure needs to be clearer, and we’ll fix it straight away
There are too many distractions
Let’s work together to come up with some solutions on how we can reduce the distractions for you
They are in fear
I have no words for this, however sadly it’s common. As a leader, I would be horrified if my employees were fearful of me. This is certainly not conducive to a healthy or productive workplace, and the manager needs to get appropriate training immediately.
They’re disengaged
Let’s chat about your strengths and passions, and where you’d like to stretch yourself, and we’ll work together on how we can implement them into your position
They’re a fish and they’re being forced to climb a tree
Sometimes, we get it wrong when we recruit someone. But if they’re a great culture fit, it’s worth finding them another role within the business that is more suited to their strengths
They woke up one morning and decided to sabotage your business and their own reputation
Unlikely, but possible. Although, I don’t think a performance plan will fix this person’s issue

I should add that if you are having regular check-ins with your employees, it’s likely you will notice a change in their behaviours early on, rather than it getting to the point of no return. However, I digress…

My point is that not one of the above examples warrant being ‘beaten with a stick’. There is no going back from that. What is required is compassion, support and a lot of patience on the part of the leader.

Not only will your employee be grateful, a Glassdoor survey suggests 81% of employees will work harder for a leader they respect and appreciate.

Most employees know when they’ve made a mistake and are usually their own worst critics. I don’t believe anyone should have to suffer through the humiliation of mistakes being pointed out to them in a way that makes them feel even worse than they already do.

A movement always starts with one… if just one leader makes a positive change in their leadership style, perhaps not so many employees will leave their hearts at home when they go to work.

Talk to us today about how we can improve the performance of your people.