After reading one of my articles a retailer told me she was resolved to take action on an under-performing employee. It seems the employee was falling short in several areas, including her sales and the quality of the experience she was delivering.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time problems have been addressed with this employee. On multiple occasions she has turned her performance around after talking with the owner, but then, invariably, slipped back to her old ways.
Sound familiar? I know I've had more than one employee like this. A person is a terrific employee when he/she is on, but an under-performer when not. It can be maddening!
Consider this. The first time there is an issue with an employee it simply needs to be addressed. If it happens again, you have a problem with the employee. If it continues to happen, you’re the problem. Harsh, but true.
Here’s why. Most of the time this is NOT a performance issue. This is a behavioral issue. The person is choosing to act a certain way, and is willingly falling short of expectations you know she/he can meet. You know, because you've seen it happen.
You’ve also addressed it more than once, and you’ve also let the behavior continue. I know he’s a great guy. I know customers love her. I know he’s a very good employee most of the time. I also know he’s costing you sales and dragging down the rest of your team.
And I also know that you’re going to be in this cycle over and over, until you stop it. If you’re okay with it, it isn’t an issue. But if you’re not, and you really shouldn’t be, then you have to turn this employee around once and for all.
Here's the key: Draw a line in the sand and then stick to it. Break the cycle of writing her/him up, watching the performance turn around for time, and then slide back to a poor performance that negatively affects the business.
The line in the sand is a final warning. The person has to know that sliding back into poor performance is no longer an alternative. She can either do the job you know she can, or choose to no longer work at your store. I purposely use the word "choose." It's your line in the sand. It's the employee’s choice to stay and perform at the highest level he/she can, or move on. No more back and forth.
Is that a difficult conversation? Yes, absolutely. Is it harsh? Not if the issue has been addressed before. Some employees need this line in the sand to either change or quit, but if you don't go to final warning you're going to continue to have the same conversation over and over again. Life's too short, and customers are too important, to accept unacceptable behavior.
The good news is that almost every employee chooses to stay and consistently work at the level he/she is capable of achieving. The others move on, and in long run are better for it. So are you and your customers.
So let me ask, do you have any employees for whom you need to draw a line in the sand once and for all? I hope not, but if you do I can tell you the short-term pain is worth the long-term gain for everyone involved.
Doug Fleener, a proven retail and customer experience expert and consultant, helps companies dramatically improve their customer experience and their sales results. Visit the Dynamic Experiences Group website, or call Doug at 866-535-6331 to discuss how he can help you create extraordinary results.