How to get rid of a poor performer in 50 tweets…Part 1!

This blog (originally published in November 2012) is being re-posted following our WordPress account being hacked, resulting in the loss of all our blogs prior to June 2017.

Dress it up how you like, ‘how do I get rid of this poor performer’ is a question I frequently get asked at training events, presentations or over the ‘phone.

Often the decision maker is looking for an instant solution, usually motivated by a desire to avoid any interpersonal confrontation and investment in time.

Since we specialise in enhancing outcomes from the handling of employment law related people issues, this may not be surprising, but very often there is an embarrassed silence on the end of the phone when the manager or Director is asked whether they have told the individual that they are unhappy with their work.

Replacing employees is expensive, so the focus of any intervention should be to correct the performance so that the employee does not need to leave the business.

So, it’s not surprising that we start these ’50 Tweets’, with things you should be doing to avoid the necessity to start a procedure that may lead to somebody’s departure. Do these things, and you will not need to use HR services like ours!

You will not always succeed, but don’t worry, the law is on your side. Employers are not expected to tolerate poor performance, but if it does come to a dismissal, they are expected to behave reasonably.

More of this later. First, let’s look at how to encourage performance improvement.

1. Tweet #1/50 pay attention to good performance. There’s a child in all of us that needs praise and thanks.

2. Tweet #2/50 tell the person what you are seeing that you’re not happy with. Avoid assumptions, comment on things you have observed.

3. Tweet #3/50 make sure they understand the impact of the issues that you have with their performance i.e. if they are not recording their activity properly, colleagues cannot deal with customer queries when they are not around.

4. Tweet #4/50 Tell them what you want to see in the place of the problem behaviours. “I’d prefer to see you….”

5. Tweet #5/50 avoid second hand feedback. “Somebody told me…” will not get you anywhere. Tell them what you have observed. I am not happy with this really is OK, it’s your standards that matter.

6. Tweet #6/50 Decide whether the problem is a “can’t” do or “won’t do” and then adjust your approach accordingly. The former may need guidance or empowerment, the latter may need more involvement to deal with disenchantment, or even direction – “you’re tried it your way, so now I want you to do it like this”.

7. Tweet #7/50 Be specific with your feedback. “You are not making enough cold calls” is more helpful than “Your sales figures are not good enough”.

8. Tweet #8/50 Give timely feedback. I was not happy with something you did a month ago” is just not good enough. Whatever you do, don’t save it all up for the annual appraisal – you’ll get appraisal a bad name!

9. Tweet #9/50 Stay assertive: show you understand, state your position and say what you want to happen next. “I understand that you were not clear about what I was looking for. I’d have preferred you to ask me to go through the ideas again, so I’d like to meet tomorrow to have that discussion so that you can get this sorted within the next fortnight”.

10. Tweet #10/50 The old chestnut: set SMART objectives, and be ready to break things down into bitesize chunks. “Try this approach for a week, and then we’ll review it” often works.

All of these ideas are regularly explored in our performance management training courses, and we will go on in Part 2 to explore what happens next if a member of your team is not responding to your concerns.

Ken Allison | 19 September 2017 | Paradigm Partners |

Ken Allison is an engaging trainer and speaker who manages to make his topics, on handling employment law related people issues and other HR stuff, highly interactive, challenging, entertaining, and above all, relevant to the 21st Century executive. Ken uses his understanding of managing businesses to show managers what they ‘can do’ rather than what they ‘cannot do’.

Through his firm’s ‘ExecutiveHR’ service, Ken also provides telephone based support services to businesses throughout the UK.

This blog is not a substitute for taking legal advice!

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