Performance Issues Got You Down?

Let’s face it, managing performance issues is usually one of the most challenging aspects of any leaders’ job.

When one of your team members is not performing up to standard, it can create a kind of low grade stress that doesn’t let up. Whether the performance challenge stems from a skills gap, a motivation problem, a completion / follow-through issue, or a poor attitude, the manager’s job is to stop, assess and address the sometimes uncomfortable and often hard-to-pinpoint issue, and then see it ALL THE WAY through until it is transformed. (This can be very hard!)

When you are the manager, the performance challenge becomes YOUR problem to solve. You can’t just “set-it and forget-it.” You need to stay on top of it and add it to your already long list of urgent responsibilities until the change you seek is sustained over a suitable period of time.

Unresolved performance problems have a corrosive impact! Beyond the strain that being unable to perform up to standard can put on the employee personally, chronically unaddressed performance issues can…

  • Erode the leader’s credibility, as other team members watch the manager kick the can down the road and allow the issue to persist.
  • Diminish trust between team members, as the person’s peers come to realize that they cannot count on the person or they have to pick up the slack left by the underperformer.
  • Destroy team culture, as resentment builds and people make up reasons (usually not favorable) about why the breach in the unwritten team contract goes unaddressed.

These issues are painful, but YOU CAN intervene effectively and turn performance issues around! A few tips:

  1. Head-off performance issues before they begin, by setting clear standards of performance up front. Take time to fill in the picture of what success looks like, as you start each and every project.
  2. Ensure that skill building—if needed—takes its rightful place on the project timeline. If the project is new for the team, build in time up front for learning and experimentation.
  3. Have courage! When performance starts to slip, address it quickly! Be kind, and steer clear of blame, but don’t let issues fester.
  4. Stay connected! An environment of trust is critical for creating space to discuss issues as they arise. Having regular and meaningful 1:1s will help you know every team member’s strengths and challenges and provide personalized support.
  5. Get help. Talking to a trusted colleague or coach, or getting support from your Human Resources experts can be invaluable in helping you clarify issues, deal with your own angst, and approach the problem constructively.


All that said, addressing performance issues can still be sticky. Knowing how to confidently address performance issues is a game changer for every manager! Even if you are not actively facing a challenge now, chances are you WILL at some point. We're here to help. Take advantage of our free resources or enroll in a course. Your leadership matters!

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