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Substandard performance rarely happens by accident. Employees usually decide when and how to slack off or withhold their best efforts. In some cases, workers underperform for not-so-obvious reasons, such as lacking technical skills or health ailments. Whatever the causes, what's most important is how the manager responds. Here are three common characteristics of underperforming workers and how managers can help lead them to a more productive path.
The Apathetic Worker
Employees who lack a connection to their work leave clues. The attentive manager quickly notices these clues and takes action to re-engage the worker. Examples of an apathetic worker can include: 1) An idea maven who begins to offer fewer suggestions to improve the operation. 2) A beyond-the-call-of-duty worker who shows less willingness to take on extra assignments. 3) A vocal worker who suddenly starts to clam up at meetings.
Managers, take note: Remain attentive to changes in baseline behavior. If you're on the lookout for even slight declines in an employee's enthusiasm, you can intervene and learn more before it's too late.
To see how else you might be slacking at the office, read on.
The Employee Who Lacks Core Skills
When filling a job opening, a manager may overlook the importance of a newcomer's actual skill level, in an effort to quickly fill the position. Prevent misunderstandings about a worker's job expectations by defining the required skill set with clarity and precision. If a manager is too vague, newcomers may wind up ill equipped to manage the workload because they're mismatched to perform the job.
Managers, take note: Direct employees to the appropriate resources to help fill in training gaps: 1) Provide self-study modules or online training. 2) Create a mentoring relationship among your staff. 3) Encourage and fund formal learning opportunities for employees.
The Disconnected Worker
Employees are more likely to reach their potential when they know that they make a difference. However, when they feel isolated or conclude their efforts are just "busy work," they'll give themselves permission to slack off.
Managers, take note: Communicate the significance of employees' contributions through both words and deeds.
In addition to singing their praises, managers should couple comments with actions: Generate a spreadsheet that shows cost savings as a result of your employees' initiatives, updating them on your unit's financial results. Doing this enables workers to see evidence of their impact.
For more ways you might be slacking at the office, read the rest of the slideshow here.
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