What’s Going On? – Part 13 in a Series on Handling Common Employee Performance Issues

solutionsMost people at work are good employees.  They do what’s expected most of the time.  They work hard, come to work every day and play well with others.  Some employees go above and beyond the normal expectations.  They arrive early, stay late and are nice to have around.  But then there are those few employees and occasionally good employees, when they do it wrong or not at all.

We have all asked ourselves at some point, “What’s going on?  Why can’t they just do what I asked them to do?” 

Here in this series, we will highlight 13 reasons that can affect a person’s performance and provide some ideas on how to handle them when they arise.  Many managers feel that they are just not motivated, which leads to non-specific answers to the problem.  In contrast, knowing what the problems are changes the question from, “How do I motivate them?” to “How do I improve their performance?”  Understanding this concept leads to specific actions that can be taken.

Personal Problems

It is the mother of all reasons.  There could be a whole host of things the employee indicates they are having problems with; sick kids, car problems, family issues, death in the family and personal issues. 

The list can get quite long and these types of problems are not hard to detect on the job.

Personal problems at work create all kinds of challenges.  It causes tension, frustration, and anger, which ultimately will affect fellow employees as well as customers.  Sometimes, you don’t even know there is anything wrong because the person experiencing the problem will appear to be very calm, at least on the outside.  Sometimes, the poor performance is permitted by the manager because of the personal problems.  Whether you know about them or not, there are often performance issues that appear.

What Can You Do?

  • First, you need to recognize that home life is becoming much more important to people.  With the increase in single parents, it creates a lot of challenges for the parent.  But understand that sometimes a manager, by permitting personal problems to be a reason, creates and allows poor performance to continue.
  • Permit the employee time off to handle their personal business.  Allow them to start early, stay late or leave early on other days to tend to their business, but it should be planned in advance.  Ask them to make up the time at a later date when it is convenient for them.  Allow them to use their vacation and/or sick time.
  • Emergency-related time off can be much more of a problem, but it is critical that a manager respond to this kind of request as a top priority.  Arrange for work coverage; re-organize the work or whatever it takes in order to address the nature of the employee’s emergency.
  • Make yourself available to people to allow them to discuss what their problems are with you.  Sometimes, just talking about them helps people come to a solution.  Help them find professional help when necessary.  Do not play amateur psychologist as you will fail.
  • Discuss the problem and determine if you can help the problem go away or direct them to assistance.
  • Explain there are really two problems.  Their personal problem and the poor performance.
  • Explain that you understand that personal problems do not go away overnight, but the work problem needs to be resolved quickly.  “I may not be able to help with the first, but how can I help with the second?”
  • Ask for their cooperation.   Most often they will respond in a very positive manner.
  • Determine what problems you and your company can live with as reasons for poor performance.  Managers should have a standardized way to handle these kinds of situations in the workplace.Learn more about handling employee problems.

Learn more about handling employee problems.

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