When you have an employee whose performance is not reaching expectations, you have to address it. If you don’t, your team and credibility will suffer. Since you want to change the employee’s performance as soon as possible, the longer you wait, the harder the conversation will be. Follow these guidelines to talk with an employee who is performing below standards.
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Request a Self-Assessment
When you privately meet with your employee, ask how well they feel they’re working on their goals. Find out key metrics they use to measure their performance and examples of their success. See how closely the employee’s perceptions align with yours. If they believe they need to improve their performance, move to the next steps of your plan. If the employee partly agrees that they need to do better, point out areas where you think they’re falling short. If they believe they’re doing well, share that you have a different perception of their performance. Mention that you’d like to provide information backing your viewpoint, gain additional information, and see how the employee might handle things differently.
Provide a list of clear expectations for the employee’s performance. Use key metrics to measure success in those areas. Ask what has been causing results below what is desired. See how you can help the employee improve. Encourage them to talk with you if problems arise or deadlines can’t be met. Perhaps you underestimated how long a project should take and need to set more realistic goals. Show your desire to help the employee succeed.
Describe specific examples of behaviors you observed that weren’t in line with performance standards. Perhaps the employee responded to only half of your emails, or took a week to answer many of them. Maybe they recently missed two deadlines without letting you know in advance. Demonstrate how the employee’s behavior isn’t in line with company standards so they have concrete examples of how to improve.
Create a Plan
Work with the employee to create a plan for improvement. Write down the steps you agree on, a timeline, and a communication plan. Clarify when the employee has to achieve specific results and the consequences if they don’t. Follow up as scheduled. Take action as needed.
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