Where does Poor Performance come from?

Graphic of three cartoon faces; one is orange and smiling, one is red and sad, and one is yellow and frowning.What’s at the root of so-called “poor performance”?

We tend to look at an employee’s – or friend’s, family member’s, customer’s, a stranger’s – behavior as a “thing,” an entity unto itself.

But is it really?

We look at an employee’s behavior, whether “good” or “bad,” and call it “performance.” But performance doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s always based on something.

“Good” performance comes from skill, training, capacity, and, yes, a certain amount of personality and initiative.

And so does “bad” performance. It too arises out of all those things, but on the flip side: a lack of skill, insufficient training, overwhelmed capacity, and perhaps frustration at the struggle to achieve.

When we have an employee who’s not performing as we’d like or expect, it’s worth taking a step back to see what that lack of performance is arising from, and solving that problem – the root problem – before assuming there’s just a problem with the employee.

If you start by believing that most people want to do a good job, then from there you can lean into questioning why this employee may not be doing a good job.

Asking, “What do you need?” is a great place to start. Observing how they work, insofar as you can in the remote / hybrid world (plus, so much of knowledge work isn’t directly observable), is another great option.

Exploring the root cause of poor performance can lead to developing an excellent employee.

I’ll add that this is especially relevant in times of change and upheaval – which is essentially all the time these days, but particularly if you’re undertaking a change initiative in your workplace.

Have you downloaded “The 5 Most Challenging Employees – and how to manage them” handbook? Click here!

Want some help exploring this for your team? Contact me and we’ll set a time to talk!