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Session on “How to deal with underperforming Employees”

‘Periodic appraisals can raise employee productivity’

In any organisation there could be employees who are not performing to their best ability. This can bring down the moral of team members and affect the overall business goals. It is important for the Human Resources (HR) manager to deal with such employees and find a solution to the issue. “Conducting periodic performance appraisals on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis will clearly communicate to employees for better performance goals at the time of increment, wage raise and promotion,” said Mr Mridul Chakravorty, Head HR of TCS, Nagpur, while speaking at a session on ‘How to deal with underperforming employees’ organised by VIA HRD Forum recently at VIA.

The basic common thought, he shared with participants, if some of your team members aren’t performing at their best, it can bring down morale and affect the overall goals of your business. It is important and fair, for both yourself and the underperforming employee, to find a solution to the issue. Ideally, all employees should understand what is expected of them, and indeed if you feel this isn’t clear, then they may not even realise they are underperforming.

Mridul said ask yourself these questions before approaching the person i.e. have all employees been told openly what you expect from them?  Do they understand what the consequences are from underperformance? are they given regular and clear training, such as face to face, training materials or otherwise? Are you confident that they understand they are underperforming?

He said normally in every organization periodic performance appraisals are not happening? and they are conducting once in a year or only did annually at the time of increment, wage raise, promotion, etc. He said you should ‘Introspect” your employee monthly, quarterly instead of appraising yearly, which clearly communicate to your employee about the performance goals of the organization. For better performance goals, you should also allow your employees to participate, to the extent possible, in the formulation of their performance goals.

In most of the organization, the common performance deficiencies are witnessed because of absenteeism, tardiness, poor attitude / insubordination, poor task performance and poor contextual performance. The other aspects of performance are organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and Emotional Labour (attributes).  The OCB is closely related to the concept of contextual performance.

He said coaching to your employees is must and not counseling. Frequently, an employee’s actions do not warrant the use of formal disciplinary actions. In these cases, informal measures such as informal verbal coaching should be used.  He said before conducting the coaching session, the supervisor or manager should prepare a list of issues that will be covered in the counseling session. He said avoid accusatory language, avoid disparage the employee; try to maintain rapport for the sake of the long term working relationship.

He also suggested some Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) for organization, which is a tool employers use to improve behavior or employee. PIPs are generally not considered to be employee discipline, but rather a developmental tool for low performing employee, which is signed by employee and at least one representative of the employer. This plan should include goals for increased performance and steps to be taken to achieve these goals. PIPs also include timelines for achieving performance goals. In every organization, we should prepare chart i.e. performance standard, performance issue/concern, action and/or support provided (e.g. training retraining), deadline for attaining goal and finally outcome (list results and / or accomplishments and completion/attainment date).

On the other hand, motivation is must for underperforming employees, one should arrange programs, support your employee by giving them job security, insurance, which inspires encourages employees to attain organizational goals. The ongoing training should be giving your employees new knowledge and skills that will be both beneficial to you and their long-term career.

He said to control such employees by way of Disciplinary Options are oral warning / reprimand is oral meeting discussing misbehavior of performance deficiencies and necessary steps to improve performance;  written warning in which employee is given a written statement of performance deficiencies and advised in writing that future deficiencies may result in further disciplinary action. Other options are suspension, leave with or without pay; demotion. etc.

He further said importance of documentation apart from whether progressive discipline is used, it is important to document the reasons for the imposition of disciplinary action, which outcomes are employee separation (voluntary or involuntary), employee withdrawal (psychological or physical) and bystander (co-worker) reactions.

Prominently present were Atul Pande, President – VIA, Aditya Saraf, Vice President of VIA, Anita Rao, past chairperson VIA LEW and representatives from industries, HR Professionals in large numbers.

Earlier, Prof Ashit Sinha, Mentor – VIA HRD Forum welcomed the guest speaker with floral bouquet. Hemant Lodha, Chairman of HRD Forum in his welcome address said today’s topic is very interesting and in every organization you will find that there are two types of employees one is competent performer and another one is incompetent non performer and to know more how to handle incompetent non performer, our expert speaker would guide you on this.  Mr Suresh Pandilwar, Co-Chairman – VIA HRD Forum introduced Mridul Chakravorty. Neelam Bowade, Convener – VIA HRD Forum conducted the proceedings. Prof Ashit Sinha summed up the discussed and also proposed a formal vote of thanks.

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