My experience has been that managers, supervisors, and HR people dread having to tell an employee that their work is not up to par or they need to improve or they need to change something that is disagreeable. Here are 5 ways to tell an employee they need to improve.
Avoid it in the first place
Actually the first thing to do is to hire correctly and avoid poor employees that need to be told they have to improve. In an article The Daily Muse wrote in Forbes entitled How To Tell A New Employee ‘Your Work Isn’t Up To Par’ they suggest that training is a good way to approach having this discussion. And they are right, more about that in a moment, but they say that if the person doesn’t have the skills to begin with then you have a major problem. No joke! How do you hire someone without the skills you required for the job? Don’t hire someone who cannot demonstrate the needed skill and you will not have to have the discussion about how they need to improve. If you are making that hiring mistake then your boss needs to be having a discussion with you about your performance needing to improve.
Have little discussions more frequently
Every manager should have their finger on the pulse of their employees work. You can check on the quality and quantity of an employee’s work without being a micromanager. When you notice that something is not the way it is supposed to be address it at that time. Don’t wait until the end of a period, such as a quarter or worse the end of the year during the dreaded performance evaluation.
Focus on the performance
Sometimes in the heat of the moment a manager will find a mistake in an employee’s work and will say something like “How could you make such a mistake. I thought you were smarter than that.” An attack on someone’s intelligence is not a good way to start a corrective discussion. A better method would be to say “I was looking at the results and was wondering how you arrived at this answer?” Then allow them to explain to you what they did. At that point you can explain to them where they went awry. The Daily Muse approached this from a professionalism approach. They suggest you focus on the issue and point out why attendance, being on time, correct spelling, correct calculation, etc. are important for both the company and the employee.
Don’t just assume that one discussion will miraculously solve the problem. Many employees will say they understand in the first discussion, but don’t really. How many times have you done the same thing hoping you could go away and figure out what the boss was talking about? So revisit with them after an appropriate time frame for the task and see if they have “gotten it.” If not then it may be an issue of training. Spend enough time with them to determine if they are just not doing it or they don’t know it. Can it be solved with some minor training? Or did you make that first mistake and hired someone incapable of doing what you needed? At that point you will have to make a decision on training the person or cutting them loose and starting over. Tough decision to make since in this case it is your error and not theirs.
One way to make sure you avoid errors with new hires is to spend time in the beginning training them on what is expected of them as new employees. This is usually done in an orientation or onboarding process. Tell them what they need to do to succeed with the company. Let them know where they can get help and that they are encouraged to get the help they need as often as they need it. Remember, typically there is a lot of information they need to learn and often in that mass of info they will miss something, so frequent revisits in the first month will help reinforce that training.
The tough discussions
Generally a new employee will have been on their best behavior during the interviewing time and the first couple days of work. Then they start slipping. The clothing they wear to work is not appropriate for the job they are in or their personal grooming is not what would be expected in your workplace. Perhaps their language is “salter” than is acceptable or their interactions with others are ruder than is acceptable. What do you do then? In this case you have to be direct yet respectful. I like the Daily Muse’s advice of talking about professionalism and what the company’s definition of professionalism is. Even though talking about someone’s grooming is personal it can be approached in a way that is not a personal attack.
Hopefully with these tips you will be more successful in dealing with how you tell a new employee they have to improve.
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