Most 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.

They Think They Are Doing It

Have you ever held a poor performance review and they were surprised to hear they had not been meeting your expectations?

Ask your employees, “How do you know when you are doing a good job?” If their answer is one of the following, they are not getting enough feedback about their work and have no reason to change:

1.”When you leave me alone.”

2.”When there have been no speeches about quality lately.”

3.”You only tell me when I make too many mistakes.”

4.”When you don’t send my reports back.”

5.”When I feel comfortable doing it, I know I’m doing a good job.”

Managers understand their own need for feedback; how they are per­forming against budget, goals, etc. Unfortunately, managers sometimes don’t give employees feedback until weeks or months later, or only when a problem occurs. By then it is too late to change their performance. Feedback is one of the most critical requirements for sustaining high-level performance.

Telling an employee that a mistake was made is not as helpful as tell­ing an employee a mistake is about to be made. In the second instance the deed can be modified to be done correctly. Follow-up and check the employee’s work before the report is finished. Feedback that will modify the work while it is in progress will prevent the report from being com­pleted incorrectly. Have you ever said any of the following?

“That’s not what I want.”

“This work is unacceptable.”

“You are falling behind.”

“You have too much data.”

“You have not enough data.”

Nonspecific feedback, whether positive or negative, is another big feed­back problem. Telling a person you are not “cutting the mustard” is not specific enough to improve performance. Telling employees, “Your per­formance is dynamite” is positive, but too general and not helpful. And if you are relying on an annual review to communicate a years’ worth of feedback and expect a lasting effect on employee performance, then you are probably wondering why the results are only temporary.

What Can You Do?

  • A good example of how to use feedback effectively is during an employ­ee fund-raising drive.
  • They always communicate the progress of the goals day-by-day.
  • Feedback can be positive, negative, neutral, general or specific.
  • Providing feedback in work situations increases productivity dramati­cally without making any other change.
  • Record achievement rates, not failure rates. Sometimes changing what you measure can have a big impact. Instead of a 10% failure rate look to improve upon the 90% success rate.
  • Post results in work areas where performance quality and quantity can be displayed.
  • If you have to give feedback to an employee about poor per­formance, make it specific and neutral. Talk about the perfor­mance and not the person.

Learn more about handling employee problems.