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Home First Months Performance Management Performance management: Roots of poor performance

Performance management: Roots of poor performance

Frew Murdoch
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Despite the increased focus on employee management efforts in recent years, poor performance still plagues employers. Performance problems slow down productivity, decrease morale and take up the valuable time of HR professionals and managers. Even worse is that poor performance can eventually result in employment terminations and be a reason for additional recruiting and hiring costs. The best way to deal with poor performance is to stop it as soon as possible by identifying the reasons behind it. Keep reading to find out the main cause behind poor work performance.

According to Jessica Miller-Merrell - author, speaker, Human Resources professional and workplace social media expert – these are three of the main causes of poor performance:

1. Communication chaos

One of the main reasons for poor performance is that employees feel confused about what their role is, who they report to, or what they should do on specific tasks or projects. This not only results in communication problems, but can also be a significant source of frustration if an employee doesn't understand his/her role in the company or is often asked to do work again because of miscommunication.

How can this be fixed?

Make sure that each employee has a clear and comprehensive job description. Ensure they are clued up on the tools and resources available to them.

2. Impossible expectations

Are your employees pulling all-nighters and working over weekends and still not meeting expectations? If your employees are putting in the extra time and still falling short in terms of performance, it may be the managers' fault, which means that you need to overhaul your employee management processes in your company.

"One issue may be that the manager's expectations are truly unreasonable. Therefore, it seems that performance issues are present, but actual performance issues can arise quickly when employees become burned out and frustrated that their work is never good enough," says Miller-Merrell.

3. Corporate conflict

Conflict is a normal part of any social and organisational setting, the challenge of conflict lies in how you choose to deal with it. Concealed, avoided or otherwise ignored, conflict will likely fester only to grow into resentment, create withdrawal or cause factional infighting within an organisation, says Mike Myatt, author of Hacking leadership.

When conflict starts to affect employees' happiness however, poor work performance may follow. It's very important to identify departments or offices that are experiencing conflict and to try and address the problems. Conflict is contagious in organisations and can seriously hamper your employee management efforts so it's important to address it before it becomes an epidemic.

Effective employee management identifies poor work performance symptoms

In day-to-day employee management, managers need to be aware of these poor performance indicators so that they can try and treat the origin of the problem before it escalates out of control. If you need help on how to do this, read these articles for inspiration.


Frew Murdoch is the assistant editor of HR Pulse. She has a BA degree in communications and English and a passion for HR technology.

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