Keys for HR managers to improve employee performance

John Sherman

Business is a very dynamic undertaking. One of the main reasons why a company may pull ahead or fall behind the competition boils down to the performance of its staff. It’s easy to see when you look at the numbers, too. According to Harvard Business Review, a high performer can be 400% more productive that an average performer.

It’s easy to see why underperforming employees can hold back growth in a big way. Here are some solutions that HR managers can use to try and bring under-performing personnel up to speed as quickly as possible.


Hold meetings

Simply listening to your staff can be essential in getting to the bottom of why things are not going as well as they could be. It may be they are not properly equipped or that overly complicated processes are hindering productivity. Perhaps your employees are missing the required training to understand their roles effectively or perhaps there are external factors that are proving to be a problem.

Holding meetings is a great way to get to the bottom of why things are not going to plan and once you know the problem, you can then begin working on a solution. Once a solution is in place, performance will begin to rise quickly.

Maintain morale

Morale is something that is key in getting people to perform well and if your workforce is low on morale, it can truly be a productivity nightmare. Letting your workforce know that you appreciate them is a great way of helping to keep morale high. Another is to make sure that they have access to comfortable facilities and that the working conditions they are exposed to are as positive and encouraging as possible. Also, make it clear that there are clear paths for development and career advancement so that they know that their efforts will be rewarded further down the line. It’s also essential to be sure that your workplace is fair for all, with equal opportunities regardless of race, gender or any other demographic.

Give evaluations

It could simply be that your workforce is unaware that they are under-performing and they may think that they are meeting or even exceeding expectations. For this reason it’s important to give staff regular evaluations to let them know where they are doing well, and where there is room for improvement. Most people would want to feel as though they are meeting expectations and would respond positively if being told, in a professional manner, that they are not. ­

Establish benchmarks so that your workforce has something to gauge their performance by, because only then can they tell if they are underperforming and need to “step it up.” Let your people know that they are not meeting expectations and you could see them transform overnight.

Reward strong performers

If employees are working hard but begin to feel that their efforts are going unnoticed or are not appreciated, it’s understandable that they may begin to lose their enthusiasm. Recognizing the strong performers in the workforce encourages them to continue to work hard, while also acting as an inspiration to others that their efforts will be recognized if they step it up and contribute the best that they can.

The rewards don’t necessarily need to be huge. Often all it takes is to let the person know that their hard work has not gone unnoticed. As for more significant rewards: promoting from within is a great way to reward your hardest working employees.

Make sure the workforce has adequate training

Poor performance is often a result of individuals not having the required training to know what needs to be done. While more complex tasks may require extensive training, other tasks may simply require a few minutes of instruction to bring them up to speed. Spend some time with individuals in the workforce to find out what they do and don’t know so you can devise a plan to help make sure that everybody is on the same page regarding proper procedures.

Of course, training up a whole workforce quickly is a tall order, so you will likely need to recruit some people to help you. Hold meetings with departmental and team managers to let them know what you need and they can take care of the heavy lifting for you. With a workforce that is now adequately trained, you will find that your workforce’s performance will improve considerably.

Remove uncooperative employees

Sometimes, no matter hard you try, some people will prove to be simply incapable of performing to a reasonable degree, or they may just be deliberately uncooperative. If your best efforts at bringing an individual up to speed have failed, then you might want to consider moving them into a more suitable role, or even moving them out of the company altogether.

Just one ‘bad apple’ in the workforce can be enough to affect everybody else, and removing troublesome employees can make an instant positive impact on moral. Even if your team does go a man down temporarily, you can still find that their performance is improved overall.

The ideal way to help ensure that your workforce is performing well is to make the right appointments in the first place. Once you have taken measures to improve performance in the short-term, then you can begin looking at ways to improve things further and into the foreseeable future. 

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