Is it, poor performance or behavior?
The answer to this question makes a significant difference in how you will handle the situation.
A more clarifying way to ask the question is the employee “Can’t Do” or “Won’t Do” the task.
Let’s put it into perspective. If I ask you to jump off a cliff and fly like a bird the clear answer to that question is that you “Can’t Do” it! This then makes it clear that it is a performance issue. The next hurdle I must cross over is determining if the employee will ever be capable of performing the task at least to standard. This of course may be a little more difficult to determine. The more experience you have facing the question, is it, poor performance or behavior with employees the better you will be at making the right decision.
If you come to the decision that the employee is not capable of ever performing to standard, no matter how much training you provide, the only conclusion is that either the employee must be terminated or reassigned to do something they are capable of performing. The best approach here is to ask the question of yourself, would a reasonable person come to the same conclusion?
As I stated earlier the more experience you have in your career of determining whether it is poor performance or behavior the better you will be at answering this question. As an example, here are some quick questions to ask:
How many employees have you had in your department over the years you have been there? Of those employees how many were unable to perform to standard, and how many were not? Of the employees that were not able to perform to standard how many after receiving additional training went on to be successful?
One more hint that may give you an answer to the question of poor performance or behavior is has the employee performed the task to standard in the past? However, this is not an end all and is largely dependent on the type of work we are talking about. The more skilled the work the less this determines the outcome. In addition, the more physical the work the less this will determine the answer. In both cases stress or just flat being tired can make a difference. Even more sensitive age may begin to play a part and this raises the question of discrimination. Remember anyone over forty is protected by Title VII.
If you come to the conclusion it is poor performance and you have decided that you are going to implement a performance improvement plan then utilize the KISS system. What is the KISS system for those that have not heard of it? Keep It Simple Silly! The less complicated any program is the greater the chances of repeated it correctly.
When it comes to implementing a performance improvement plan the more you can break down any task the better you will be able to determine exactly why the employee is having trouble completing the task to standard.
As an example, if I am giving directions to someone to drive from point A to point B the more specific, I am the greater the chances of them getting there. However, on the other side of that coin the more specific I am I can also tell quickly if they made a right instead of a left when they get lost.
Now getting back to the other side of the question, is it poor performance or behavior, what if it is behavior? In other words the employee is capable of doing the work but chooses for some reason not to. In its purest form this is insubordination; however, there are many things that go into it so don’t draw any immediate assumptions.
The best approach to getting to the bottom of why someone decided not to perform the work is actually sitting down with the employee and asking enough questions to get to the root cause. You may be amazed at what you discover when you follow this through to the end. Many system problems have been discovered through doing this correctly. As you approach this keep in mind that leadership is not always right.
Therefore, as you go about answering the question of whether something is poor performance or behavior be open minded and not arrive at a conclusion before all options are taken.
Thank you and may God bless you!