Poor Performance Can Be Contagious

Julie Shenkman
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Poor employee performance can be a pervasive problem and may become contagious if it isn't dealt with promptly. The very best employees usually feel content, valued by their employers and interested in their jobs. If a part of that trifecta bottoms out, a formerly productive employee may start to lose steam. If you can determine what is wrong, you may be able to reverse the worrying trend and retain your staff member.

As a human resources specialist, it is part of your responsibility to ensure that the people in your immediate team — and in the departments for which you are responsible — flourish as much as possible. Sometimes, formerly promising staff members' performances start to flag for no apparent reason. If you can determine the reason for your employee's performance dip and come up with an action plan for improvement, you may be able to restore the balance.

Poor employee performance can also become contagious, so it's very important to tackle the issue before other members of staff start to slip down the slope as well. Perhaps there are issues at home that need attention; maybe the employee feels overlooked and dismayed. Either way, a "performance intervention" can help to solve the mystery.

There are a number of ways you can play detective. The right approach depends upon your particular circumstances and your company's standard operating procedures. An initial meeting with the individual in which you highlight the poor employee performance in an empathetic way can help to drive conversation in the right direction. You may find out important details about your staff member's life, which can help you come up with a plan.

Your company's resources may include a financial or social helpline for employees having trouble outside work. If so, pass that information to an affected employee. If, on the other hand, the employee feels undervalued or bored in his or her current position, you may want to assign additional duties, or suggest a training course to increase the odds of future promotion.

It takes time and money to train each new staff member, so if you can collaborate with your employee and solve the issue causing the poor performance, your company stands to benefit financially as well. Increased morale and a sense of inclusion and understanding has a profoundly positive effect on any team.

It can be tough to pinpoint the reason for an employee's poor performance, especially if your staff member's contributions vary from nonexistent to brilliant depending on the day or time. To improve your odds of a successful performance intervention, ascertain the reasons behind poor employee performance as quickly as possible. The right approach can lead to improvement in your entire team's morale and can significantly boost results.

Photo courtesy of Basketman at Freedigitalphotos.net



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