How do you know if an employee is a "keeper"? Great question! In these tough economic times we definitely want the best employees on our team, yet we all understand employee turnover comes at a huge cost and impact to our bottom line. So how do we know is it them (lazy, unqualified, bad job fit) or us (our leadership style)?

I recently attended a great workshop on leadership, and while I walked away with several nuggets of information, the following really stuck with me.

Business thought leaders have determined there are "only" seven reasons an employee is not performing:
1. Lack of task clarity
(i.e. they are not sure of exactly what their job is)
2. Lack of task priority
(i.e. they are working hard doing one thing you are mad because they have not done what 'you' understand as the most important part of their job)
3. Lack of competence
(i.e. you are coaching, directing or leading them at a level in their current role they have not yet achieved)
4. Real or perceived obstacles
(okay sometimes their excuses are a little thin - but as leaders removing that perceived obstacle can help us determine their commitment to success)
5. Great perceived reward for failure (my personal favorite on the list - simply means they get bigger reward for not doing their job well - then for doing it well. Think as leaders we are all guilty of this - forgetting to give praise, recognition and reward for duties done well)
6. Lack of performance feedback
(i.e. you are not consistently coaching)
7. Lack of skill
(i.e. bad fit - good person wrong role)

What I loved most about this list is that only number 7 is final. The other six are actually things you can first test yourself as a leader - am I providing the right environment, skills or tools that this person needs to be successful. Second, they are things you can work and talk directly with the employee about. Third, they are tangible, once you do your role as the leader in any of those six and the employee is still not rising to the occasion than you are able to make an unemotional decision about whether or not to let that person go. Peace of mind in a firing situation isn't that fantastic!

And number 7? Well that is actually doing someone a favor. I am a firm believer everyone has the ability to be successful in the right role. And as leaders, we are doing people a kindness when we recognize our employees are struggling, the fit is a bad one and we help guide them to a role more suited for their talents and abilities.

"High energy, high impact and highly motivating," that is Meridith Elliott Powell, founder and owner of MotionFirst. A certified strategist, coach, and business development expert, Meridith is known in the industry as a catalyst and someone who makes things happen! Work with Meridith to build your network and change your life!

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