All too often, when dealing with an employee whose performance or behavior does not meet expectations, we attribute

the problems to some flaw in the person's character -- labeling the individual a 'problem' employee. Such attribution and labeling usually are unfair and unwarranted ... and always are counterproductive. Although there are exceptions... The true cause of most performance problems has nothing to do with an employee's character. Once you grasp this Secret, you open yourself to diagnosing... The 5 Root Causes of Performance Problems The real cause of most problems falls into one or more of the following 5 categories:
1. Expectations: Does the employee know what is expected? Does the employee even

know there is a problem? These both may be obvious to you, but often they are not to the employee. [This is a classic symptom of not receiving constructive feedback.] 2. Training and Ability: Does the employee have the requisite skills, abilities and aptitudes to perform the task? If they don't have the aptitudes, you'll probably have to reassign or fire them. But if it's a skills/abilities issue, you then need to ask yourself... Has the employee received the appropriate training to do it? This may include formal classroom training or education. Even more likely, however, is the need for OJT -- showing the employee how to do it. 3. Job Design: Does the employee have the necessary tools and resources to perform the task? Those resources include not only physical tools, but also convenient and timely access to information and to you, their manager. And does the system support good performance? This gets into such issues as communications, scheduling and teamwork -within a department and between departments. 4. Work Environment This refers not only to the physical environment, but also to how employees are treated. Is good performance rewarded ... or punished? For example, is there an informal standard set by peer pressure to not work too efficiently? Or, are you assigning extra, more demanding tasks to your best employees, without rewarding them appropriately? Is poor performance rewarded? That is, do you tolerate it? Do you treat your marginal employees the same as you treat your outstanding ones? --> Hey, why not goof off? And is the employee being treated fairly? Not only in your eyes, but also in theirs. This includes:
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Discrimination and harassment Sensitivity to differences

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Equity theory Favoritism

Ask them. without consulting someone else. from the employee and/or from others.the employee him/herself! You may find that it is not a performance intervention that's called for.. the symptoms.g. 2.g. 3. Personal/Motivational Problem Does a problem exist in the employee's personal life that may contribute to poor performance? For example. So ask your in-house expert -. You probably won't be able to answer all of them.] Activity 1. but it's certainly worth looking into. not the causes). 5. but a change in the system or in your own behavior. asking yourself all those questions.. the reason for lateness and attendance problems often is parental responsibilities. Diagnosis Prior to taking action on a performance problem (e. [NOTE: Although critical for addressing performance problems. 4. you need to think about those five categories of potential root causes. Ask yourself each of the questions in the five categories as it pertains to the problems. Describe that person's performance problems (i. Determine for which questions you need additional information. e.. Or is the employee's morale or attitude preventing the employee from successfully applying his or her skills and abilities? This may or may not be subject to your control or influence. Low morale or even a negative attitude may be a symptom of excessive job demands or not receiving deserved positive feedback. .e. such diagnosis also can be useful when assisting good employees to develop into great employees. Answer as best as you can. Identify one of your employees who needs performance improvement. coaching or giving constructive feedback).

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