Every manager knows when their people aren’t performing to the best of their ability. 

So how do you go about creating a culture of appreciation, bracketed by solution-led leadership, that does the work of improving overall poor workplace performance without alienating your staff?

In our humble view, the answer lies in simple things – most importantly, appreciating that good and poor performance both lie in more than workflows, goals or rewards – but that your working culture is the conduit to how connected, psychologically safe and how heard your people are.

Poor performance in the post-pandemic era is, sadly, common. From under-appreciated workforces to poorly paid teams when inflation is rampant, good and poor performance is tethered to the times we live in. 

Good leaders take that knowledge and make impactful changes to reward, recognition and feedback in real time, with tangible goals set and feedback provided throughout.

So here we want to discuss how to handle poor performance without demoralising your team, and how simple changes can make a world of good for future hiring and retention of your best in class. 

Build the culture and the solutions will build themselves. 

Clarity of expectations.  

If your people can’t follow a delineated path to improvement you’ve failed in your job as a leader. 

Putting a plan in place for individuals to get back on track should be unique, targeted to the specific staff member, and bespoke in its goals and solutions. Clarity is paramount. Set clear goals, and get clear, uncomplicated rewards. Simple.

Feedback is king. 

Again, we reiterate the meandering path to improvement – don’t fixate on one goal or solution as the only fix for poor performance, but focus on iterative improvements, based on context and real-life execution. 

Providing regular feedback is the only way of doing this. It gives your staff member a clear track of their movements and a leadership-eye-view on how they’re performing in light of changes made and expectations changing. 

Create psychologically safe workplaces.

Improvements don’t happen in a vacuum.

You need to curate a culture of improvement and high performance always, across every department and every staff member. The only way to do this is by creating a workplace that values collaboration, ideas sharing, and the ability to make mistakes without fear of demonisation or abuse – a psychologically safe workplace. 

A psychologically safe workplace engenders your people in a more positive frame of work. It gives them a safe place to learn and grow, whilst sharing in the benefits of a peer group who want to succeed and a leadership team who value fair feedback and positive criticism.

Administer with accuracy and honesty.

Document progress and commit to logging solutions.

Putting pen to paper is committing to action and feedback in real time.

Not only does this give you, as a leader, oversight of performance to date, but it also shows your staff you’re fair in setting new goals and are eager to use bias-free, objective feedback as a baseline for ongoing guidance and leadership. 

As any HR pro knows, documentation means you have a paper trail for action further down the road. We love the fact managers are keen and close enough with their people to take them for a coffee to chat about business. But really good leaders always take notes.

Use tech to your advantage. 

As this is our expertise, and as our Marketplace helps people do exactly the following, it cannot be ignored that good tech in the form of performance management platforms, peer-review software, anonymous feedback forms and digital collaboration tools has made it easier than ever to support poor performers. 

But word to the wise – any HR or workforce tech needs to be targeted, well-understood and relevant to your staff management needs. 

Don’t simply build a stack for a stack’s sake – do your research, engage in demos, ask your staff for feedback on what they feel is lacking in performance management standards and find the best platform for your needs.

Lead with vision and purpose.

Be specific about the problem, and address it openly and without bias.

This is leadership 101, and we won’t hammer home the point – but it’s amazing how some business leaders are fearful of professional and fair confrontation. 

In our view, it’s easier to be critical of someone’s work when you’re specific. Generalising criticism will only result in generalist solutions. 

Constructive criticism works!

By this, we mean focus on positives and specific, targeted solutions. 

Contextualise a solution, offer a platform or a path for improvements, set positive goals and be inclusive throughout. 

Fair is fair.

Don’t bully, or patronise. Don’t demean or belittle. Yes, the best managers know when to be hard or soft when it comes to performance management, but in our view when it gets personal you’ve taken it too far. 

Be focused, entirely, on fixable performance issues and how you see them in the context of overall business performance. 

Be fair, leverage data, use feedback and make it fair!

Patience is a virtue.

You can’t build an award-winning company overnight. Products and services aren’t formed in an instant, ready to be sold on a whim. 

Progress takes time, so be patient. Allowing a reasonable amount of time to change and adapt to new goals or performance requirements is not only the right thing to do, but it also garners long-term trust and improved connection with your teams who see you being fair with feedback, and not unreasonable in your demands.

In our view, setting reasonable deadlines for improvements or feedback is wise, but don’t be too fixed! Be adaptable, and allow your people the chance to improve their workload around personalised, time-agile solutions. 

At Rectec we help organisations to find the best recruitment and talent acquisition technologies to suit your needs. 

From Applicant Tracking System and Recruitment CRM comparison, to vendor snapshots, and technology showcases in our unique technology marketplace, we provide fee-free tools to help you build the perfect recruitment tech stack for your business!