How Leaders Create Poor Employee Performance
Last week Blanchard LeaderChat posted an article “Star Performer Not Performing?“. It addressed a question on a drop in a great employee’s work and guided the leader ask a few internal questions before reflecting on the employee in question.
It got me to thinking about how leaders in organizations can inadvertently create performance issues among their employees.
It is a default when an employee’s performance or engagement drops to scrutinize the individual, but there often can be external reasons that contribute. And believe it or not, many can come from leadership itself.
Here are some questions to ask in determining if your leadership has resulted in a decline of employee performance (individual and team):
- Have we shown them everything they need to be successful in their role? Have we left no stone unturned in making our training complete while meeting their collective and individual needs? Perhaps we haven’t led them to a higher level of performance and just assumed basic training was enough and they should get the rest.
- Did I hire for culture fit? Did I hire because that candidate made me look good? Did I oversell them on our culture when we don’t walk the talk? Maybe the culture they thought they were a part of is in reality toxic and they’re pulling away.
- Are there tendencies in my leadership that creates fear? Am I passive-aggressive in my behavior? Are people afraid to talk to me, or worse, perform for fear of failing? I might be repelling people more than attracting, and better yet, inspiring them.
- Do I demand expectations that can’t be realistically attained? Are we being overly perfectionsitic and discouraging more than encouraging? Maybe we should appreciate the effort more than the results.
- Do we create value in our employees? Have they disengaged because we don’t praise, listen or acknowledge their input or efforts? They might start seeking for affirmation in another company if we don’t course correct and recognize their value and voice.
- Am I being fair and objective in my dealings with certain individuals? Do I favor people because they’re always the stars, or give undue time to the squeaky wheels? If I neglect the ones trying everyday I may be showing favoritism and bias.
- Have we articulated our vision recently? Has alignment of our mission drifted because we didn’t promote and/or live up to our core values? If our people have lost sight of the big picture, it’s up to us to cast that vision continually to keep the spark alive.
- Have we placed obstacles in their way that hamper performance? Are their systems, communication challenges, physical/behavioral/cultural barriers that we’ve created? By removing roadblocks to performance, both unintentional and deliberate, we can open up a pathway for the to do their jobs.
While we can acknowledge that employees are ultimately responsible for their own performance, there can be contributing external factors that get in the way, such as personal financial worries, family issues, health concerns and such. Yet as leaders we should recognize ways that we may be contributing to the downfall of an employee or group of employees.
Before going to HR, drafting the improvement plan, getting the written documentation formalized – or worse – doubling down on our behavior that set the environment for such performance, we should ask these and other questions to make sure we remove any ingredients that we’ve contributed to the performance recipe.
We may be pleasantly surprised in the improvement our employee shows us once we’ve addressed our contributions.
Examine yourself first before addressing the other person. It’s the only way to provide mutual beneficial growth and a culture that values their people.