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Five reasons behind your employee's poor performance and how to stop it affecting your business

by , 16 February 2015
If you have a poor performer that you need to deal with, you have to discover the root cause of the problem first.

You have to figure out if it's because he's lazy or if there's something else going on.

The good news is we've done all the hard work for you.

Today we reveal five common reasons behind employee poor performance. And how to address them so your company productivity doesn't suffer.

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Is your employee a poor performer? These five reasons could be the cause

1. Lack of direction and objective setting
Your employee could be performing poorly because he doesn't:
  • Know what he needs to achieve;
  • How to achieve it;
  • When he needs to achieve it by; and
  • Know the standards you require and how you'll measure his performance.
In other words, your employee's goals aren't clear.
Solution: To deal with this, set clear SMART objectives and communicate them, says the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.
By SMART, the Guide means the goals you set must be:
  • Specific (i.e. it must be clear what you want him to achieve)
  • Measurable (i.e. you must be able to determine if he's meeting his objectives)
  • Achievable (i.e. challenging but realistic)
  • Results-orientated (i.e. focused on an outcome/result)
  • Time-specific (i.e. it must be clear when your employee needs to achieve his goals)
An example of setting a 'SMART' goal would be to say: Your project manager must develop and implement a new Performance Management system that will be more objective and fair by 31 June 2015.

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  • Always busy but never meets deadlines…
  • Always making excuses for why he doesn't meet company targets…
  • He doesn't meet his KPI's…
  • And he's constantly making costly mistakes…

The next logical step is to get rid of him and get someone who can do the job. But watch out, that could cost you BIG at the CCMA!
So what can you LEGALLY do?

Four more reasons your employee's performing poorly

2. Lack of performance management
'A key reason employees perform poorly in the workplace is poor management,' says chron.com.
Your managers need you to make time for employees and give them feedback regularly.
Solution: The actions you could take are to:
  • Have regular informal work discussions (for example, once a week);
  • Have formal reviews (for example, every month); and
  • Explain to your employee how her performance or lack thereof affects the department.
3. Lack of interest
'Monotonous work bores employees and makes them lose interest,' says chron.com.
The end result?
They perform poorly and aren't productive.
Solution: Give your employees tasks that interest, challenge and engage them.
If you talk to them regularly it should be easy to identify the type of work that interests them. And makes them perform at their best.
4. A company culture that doesn't motivate employees to want to perform
Your employees might perform poorly if:
  • There's a workplace culture of fear;
  • There's too much red tape;
  • You reward mediocrity;
  • There's a lack of transparency and communication; and
  • There's a lack of support (i.e. 'sink or swim' approach).
Solution: You need to look at your company culture and change it if it works against performance.
5. External factors
Things like family problems could cause your employees to perform poorly and not give their all.
Solution: To deal with this, refer your employees to your employee assistance programme if you have one or suggest they go for counselling.
If possible, give them time off to sort things out quickly so their problems don't affect their performance.
There you have it: Now that you know what could be behind your employee's poor performance, address it today so it doesn't affect your business any more.
PS: For everything you need to know to correctly manage a poor performer and to legally dismiss them if you have to, get The 'No Excuses!' Guide to Performance Management.

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