Accelerating the Advancement of Women Leaders 

TEACH INSTEAD OF TERMINATE

October 23, 2018

The power of training to transform performance
When we first take on responsibility for managing others, we expect to lead, motivate and perhaps even inspire. But the ability to teach and coach team members to stronger performance can be the difference between high turnover, low morale and rising recruitment costs and employees who are learning and improving every day.
 
Even seasoned managers sometimes jump too quickly to initiate steps toward termination for an underperforming employee. But sometimes the work environment itself and company systems can contribute to poor performance. Other times, employees may need more specific and targeted training to succeed.
 
If you can add “teacher” to your workplace skill set, you will often be able to help a D performer move into solid A and B territory. In the process, you will also protect department morale, decrease recruitment costs and avoid the downtime involved in lengthy termination, hiring and onboarding processes.
 
Here are some ways to teach an underperforming team member and hopefully avoid termination.
 
Open a dialogue
A candid conversation is often the best starting point for any challenge. Is the employee struggling to understand goals and expectations? Is she dealing with workplace strife you were not aware of? Does she need more resources to get the job done? Is he facing personal issues that are interfering with performance? If both sides can share concerns and frustrations, you can start to address the problem with facts rather than assumptions.
 
Figure out if it’s personal or organizational
If a team member is struggling to pull her load or meet quality standards, do a little digging first to see where the greatest challenges are. Talk with the employee directly to see where she is struggling. Explore how others in similar roles handle the same challenges.
 
Where you can pinpoint organizational and system barriers to success, work with the team to fix them. Where you can identify personal skill sets that are lacking, put a professional development plan in place.
 
Consider a mentor
If an employee is struggling due to skill gaps, look across the team to see if there is someone who excels in those areas. You don’t have to be the only teacher in the group. If someone on the team is great at cost controls and the challenged employee keeps running over budget, pairing them in a mentoring relationship can provide job enrichment for your strong performer and a collegial way to learn new skills with a peer rather than with a boss.
 
A 2016 study by Deloitte found that an “enabling infrastructure” helped employees advocate for the support they need to make the changes that lead to improved outcomes.
 
Provide the tools
If employees truly cannot complete work effectively due to outdated or poorly functioning tools, do whatever you can to free up resources for a few careful purchases.
 
Show where they fit
Especially in large organizations, it can be difficult for employees to understand how their job affects others or how it impacts the whole. Helping team members understand the organization’s vision and how what they do moves it forward, imbues people with a sense of purpose that can be highly motivating.
 
By thinking like a teacher, you can help employees learn the way to better performance.


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