3 Leadership Lessons for Dealing with Employee Performance Issues
Early in my career I hired an employee, that had a stellar background and work history but almost immediately had performance issues. She was good at the technical duties of the job but not at communicating and working well with others. During meetings she made critical comments of co-workers for the job that they did. Or, she wouldn’t follow-up, and include others in needed communication. She would say, “Why don’t others just do their jobs.” When I had coaching sessions with her, she would complain about co-workers, and then agreed to improve. Inevitably, things would be stirred up through additional sarcastic or caustic remarks. This went on for a while, and I agonized over it.
Is it time to fire the employee?
I thought I had to fire her. We eventually had a heart to heart talk, and during our discussion I learned things about her background that shed light on what was happening. Her work history was mostly solo work, where she starred. Plus, she shared some personal things in her past that affected how she communicated. It finally dawned on me that she really didn’t know that much about teamwork, and lacked key emotional intelligence skills to make changes effectively. While this was happening I was attending a seminar related to managing with flexibility in terms of my coaching and leadership style. I had been supervising her the same way for all her priorities including working well with others and teamwork. So, I was at fault, too, for the poor performance. Bottom-line, as I changed how I supervised and coached her, she improved greatly as time went on and became a star employee in all areas.
3 Leadership Lessons Learned
While I hated the experience at the time, I am very grateful today for the situation, and the learning about how to deal with employee issues. My leadership lessons are below and they have served me well over the years.
- Thoroughly check what a prospective employee’s work experience actually involves before you hire.
- Apply leadership different styles to different employees, and different styles to the same employee depending on their performance on specific objectives.
- Don’t give up on people too quickly. Even a poor performing employee can become a top performing employee.
Author John Maxwell said, “Leadership develops daily, not in a day.” Is there a leadership lesson or training that has made a big difference for you?
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