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Staff Don’t Meet Your Standards? Here’s What to Do About It

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Does this sound familiar? “We spent so much training our guys to be personable on the job site, but we still have service problems. What a waste!” Or what about, “He does the bare minimum. That’s it. There’s no pride in his work. Honestly, it’s hard to have him on my crew.”

It’s likely you’ve heard or thought these same things before. At any given moment, there are legions of wood flooring employees busy “working” but not doing the work their managers expect them to do, or, worse yet, doing their work in ways that hurt morale, productivity and the bottom line.

Perhaps a few of those frustrating employees have a professional death wish—but most don’t. In all likelihood, they are as frustrated by their performance as you are. The onus is on you, the manager, to identify and implement the fix.

Here are five core reasons members of your team aren’t performing to your standards and how you can put a stop to it.

Reason 1: They Can’t

If you expect people to do something they can’t do, don’t be surprised when they fail. Would you assign an installer to do the business’ accounting? Or, if the receptionist is supposed to greet guests, answer the phone, order office supplies and clean the kitchen all while updating the website project gallery, keeping tabs on your social media channels and sending promotional material to newspapers, is there any wonder that person can’t get it done?

The Fix: Take a hard look at what you ask your team members to do. If some of them are not meeting your expectations, be sure those expectations are realistic and reasonable. Truth be told, assigning tasks to people who, for whatever reason, can’t complete them to your standard means you’ve brought the situation upon yourself. Quit beating yourself up: Change the person or change the tasks.

Reason 2: They Don’t Know How

All too often people are thrown into a job with little or no training. They learn on the job, bring what they knew from their last job or teach themselves (if you are lucky). In other words, they wing it—and most of the time it shows. If you are holding people accountable for performing tasks for which they’ve had no training, you’re going to frustrate the employees and hurt morale. It’s as simple as that.

The Fix: Train people on systems, processes and desired behaviors, and do it often. Good organizations teach forward, as well as learn from their mistakes. Spend some time thinking about what needs to be completed in a certain way. For example, if your crews are supposed to introduce themselves to the homeowner, “Good morning, I’m _ with Exceptional Flooring Company Inc., do you have any questions before we begin?” Then you’d better tell them, and script them if necessary. Show them how to do it with a smile, and do it yourself if you’re leading a crew.

Reason 3: They Don’t Know They’re Not Doing it

People are not telepathic. When you fail to make your expectations clear in terms of both quality and quantity of work, and when you fail either to correct substandard performance or praise good performance, you have no cause to complain. Setting clear expectations and providing regular feedback matters.

The Fix: If an employee’s unsatisfactory performance is chronic in spite of training, managerial direction and on-the-spot correction or praise, it is time to schedule a one-on-one meeting to review goals and expectations. Employees should know where they stand within an organization. A failure to tell people whose sustained job performance is unsatisfactory is bad management, and a failure to document the meeting is unacceptable. Your employees and your organization deserve better.

Reason 4: They Don’t Think it’s Important

Sometimes people know the rules and they ignore them because they don’t think the rules are essential. How could someone reach that conclusion? It’s easier than you think. If managers don’t model desired behaviors, reward people for demonstrating those actions and coach their team members to anticipate potential missteps, they’re sending the wrong messages. If you park in a spot reserved for visitors a couple of times, how long do you think it will take others to start doing the same thing?

The Fix: Walk the talk. It’s as simple as that. Hold yourself accountable, first and foremost. Next recognize and reward what you want to see and address any shortcomings on the spot. Of course, this doesn’t mean becoming a patronizing zealot and thanking people for doing things they should be doing, such as wearing clothing to work. Rather, it means having standards and sticking to them. If you’ve talked to someone about the quality of his installation technique and in a week that person has turned it around 100 percent, acknowledge his effort as soon as you observe it.

Reason 5: They Don’t Want To

On rare occasions you may encounter someone who is capable, trained and operating in a learning environment but who still fails to meet expectations despite repeated coaching and counseling.

The Fix: Document, document, document, and keep that poison apple away from the others in the barrel. There are times when people are simply not a good fit for a job, and you need either to move them somewhere else in the organization or out of the organization altogether. Be kind, firm and quick to act. The better your documentation, the smoother the process.

Nobody ever said managing people was easy. It’s not. It requires time, thoughtful planning, hard work and moral courage; in short, it requires leadership. That said, the payoffs can be huge for the employee, the organization and for you.

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