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3 tips to help you manage underperforming employees

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A question I get asked a lot by our community of entrepreneurs is: “What should you do when someone appears to be culturally aligned with your company but consistently fails to hit their KPIs?”

There’s an inherent issue within this question. Ultimately, if someone isn’t hitting their KPIs, they’re not culturally aligned with your business.

Culture and performance are not separate entities. Culture IS performance. An employee who’s a cultural fit believes in your company’s vision, mission and values.

This alignment should trickle down to their performance on a day-to-day basis. Someone who is culturally aligned will feel compelled to go above and beyond to achieve the ultimate objectives, whether that’s marketing creating compelling content, sales signing new business or client relations fostering customer trust.

Culture isn’t about beanbags, high fives and fireman poles. You can’t run a successful business off that. Culture is about uniting your employees around a common vision and inspiring them to fight for and actualise that mission.

Vision, mission and values are not separate to achieving weekly targets and KPIs.

The only way you can achieve great work is by mapping out what you and your team need to do each year, month and day to accomplish your goal.

In order to bring your vision to life, you need to develop tangible goals that will enable you to actualise it.

Determining what action you need to do today in order to achieve the target, quarterly objectives, operational plan, strategy and so on until you make your way back to your company’s vision relates directly back to people hitting their targets and KPIs.

Managing an underperforming employee who you like on a personal level or who’s been with your company for an extended amount of time is a delicate issue to navigate. While it might be difficult, you have to remember it’s necessary if you want to grow your business.

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There are three things you need to consider in this kind of situation.

1. Are they still a good fit for the organisation?

This question ultimately comes down to whether the person still contributes and supports their team.

If they’re disadvantaging their colleagues by creating more work, constantly making mistakes or failing to pitch in, then you have to remember your responsibility to the team, business and culture at large.

2. How can you support them to grow?

As a leader, you need to accept that your team will make mistakes and fail, and that’s ok. What separates a high performer from an under performer is the ability to learn and grow quickly from failure. If this is the case, invest in them.

If someone is consistently making mistakes or underperforming, try and understand the reason why – is it a lack of role clarity? A lack of training? Invest in their growth and development, give them the benefit of your experience and surround them with advisors and coaches. However make it clear to them that they need to invest in their own growth and development in order to lift the bar.

You need to give them the tools to help them achieve their targets and immerse themselves in the world of growth and development they need in order to step up to the level the business requires them to be at.

3. If you’ve done everything you can, at the end of the day, the business comes first.

The Entourage now employs 80 people, has a couple of thousand students and a community of 300,000. I have a responsibility to all these people.

You can love somebody, be completely in their corner and wholeheartedly loyal to them, but if they’re not performing to the standard they need to be or they’re negatively impacting the team, then you have to let them go.

A less obvious reason this person needs to transition is to uphold the integrity of the business. The vision, mission and values are compromised because you have a team member who isn’t living up to them, and this kind of mindset could affect other staff members.

As a business grows, sometimes the people employed in the earlier stages don’t grow with it. This situation is never easy to deal with, but you didn’t go into business for it to be easy.

The Entourage BSB51915 Diploma of Leadership and Management is a course designed to give you the best practice frameworks and guidance needed to grow into a leader that is able to construct a clear path for success, inspire teams to action and enable greatness within others. Learn more here! 

About Jack Delosa

Jack Delosa is an entrepreneur and investor who is changing education. He is the founder and CEO of Australia’s largest education institution for entrepreneurs, The Entourage. He is also an investor in growth companies such as Q-Biotics, Martin Jet Pack (ASX:MJP) and eMerchants (ASX:EML), and founded The Entourage Growth Fund, which invests in upstart businesses. He is one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs, having been listed in the BRW Young Rich List since 2014.

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