Every team has periodic performance issues. Here’s how to address these problems on your own team.
Managing your team takes a significant amount of work—and that’s when everything’s going well. Having an underperforming staff member can tax your team, deplete morale, and cause serious problems for the entire department. But it’s an issue every marketing leader encounters. There are concrete steps that you can take to manage these issues when they arise.
Establish clear performance metrics: Every employee on your team should have a documented job description and clear performance codes. In today’s high-paced marketing departments, this can be a challenge. But it’s the easiest way to clarify expectations, measure performance, and create an actionable plan when an employee’s contributions lag.
Talk to the employee: Whether employees have made a serious mistake or their engagement seems to be waning, start the process with a conversation. Take some time to find out what’s happening with them. Are they facing trouble at home or struggling with health issues? Is there specific support they need around knowledge, technology, or team dynamics to improve their performance? Many issues can be solved with a simple conversation. Always follow up your conversations with an e-mail or notes that document the process.
Set actionable performance plans: Turning a lagging contributor into a star player doesn’t happen overnight. For example, a sales associate who isn’t making enough (or any!) calls daily isn’t going to magically start selling large amounts of business. Focus on the first step of increasing his or her cold-call numbers. From there, you can set additional goals, such as converting a percentage of the calls to leads or increasing average order value. Always begin with achievable goals to increase the chances that your troubled employee can meet expectations.
Know when to involve HR: Certain types of underperformance can be managed by your leadership team. Others may be more serious. If a person’s performance is endangering his or her employment, consult your HR department. It has resources that can guide you on employment regulations, company resources, and other guidance that can dramatically improve the results of any coaching or performance changes you make. It can also help you move forward with terminating the employee if it reaches that point.
Prioritize communication: Even if your management style is largely hands-off, it can pay to invest in communication when someone is struggling. Take the time to give feedback, but keep it constructive and actionable. Check in on how assignments are going, and offer help where needed. Schedule regular check-ins. Taking an active interest and supporting a struggling employee can be the difference between success and failure.