30. When Team Members Stop Performing

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/30. When Team Members Stop Performing

30. When Team Members Stop Performing


Eventually you’ll have to encounter a team member that’s no longer performing at the level that’s expected of them.

It’s inevitable because we are ultimately in the PEOPLE business. The team members around us are not robots and may at some point need some intervention.

While some offenses are fireable, performance is a tricky area as it’s part of our jobs to provide training for team members. And it’s much, much easier to retain a team member than trying to find, hire and train up a new employee.

Today we’ll go through the steps to take action to correct your employee’s performance.

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What's going on operator, welcome to today's episode, we get to talk about something not so fun today. And this is not fun. But we're talking about when team members stopped performing, and steps that I've taken in the past have worked really well. And just some tips to make it a better process and make it work for you. Because this can easily work against you, if you're not careful. So that's really our topic today. Because I've said this before, yes, you know, we run teams, we're behind the scenes, doing all the stuff in the back end. But we're also in the people business, you know, that's what operators do where we have to do both, we have to be able to manage the big projects, manage all the trains that are moving within our company, but also work with the people that are in our company. And this is one of those areas where like things can go sideways really quick. It gives us inevitable, like, you're gonna encounter a team member that's no longer performing at the level that's expected of them. Whether it be the level they're currently at, maybe they got a promotion, or they're not meeting that next level. But it's gonna happen, like things are gonna change, and team members aren't always going to change with it, or they'll regress. And some of it may just be, you know, like, shit happens, man, I'll be perfectly frank with you. The important thing is like, this is not just one or two mess ups, this is not they had a bad week. This is a history, a track record of not meeting their expectations of not meeting their due dates.

You know, all sorts of things can go into this. And it's going to be different in every situation, but the process that you're going to use during this is always going to be the same. And that's what I love about having a process is because when this is templated out when you have a plan, and you're just following a plan, you know, we what would the Joker say, you know, if he tells somebody he's going to blow up a building, and he does everyone is cool, because it's all part of the plan. It was a terrible impersonation. But you know, you can thrive in chaos, when you have a plan. You can thrive in uncomfortable areas when you have a plan. So have this plan, have it nested out know what you're gonna do, and it makes the whole situation a whole lot easier on your end. So the first thing, let's get this out of the way, like some things are straight fire, like if someone steals money from the company, you know, tells an employee off in a bad way. You know, some things just require immediate termination. We all know those things. Are they spelled out in your company docs? Like? Do your team members know what the fireable offenses are? If they don't, you might want to tighten that up. Just just something to consider in your employee handbook. What are the immediate termination protocols, you know what will result in immediate termination, that will help you avoid lawsuits, it'll help you with HR. And you might not need HR yet. But if you're running a five person company, and you're able to do this now, well, then you just have to make revisions of it when you grow to 1015 2025. So it's all about getting our baseline in order. So do that. If you haven't done it yet, mark it on your to do list to like really test out what your fireable offenses are. But we're talking about something different. Because what have we all learned about customers, you know, it's way harder to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. It's the same with team members. You know, it's much harder to find the right person train them up, especially in this market where apparently like his whole generation of people doesn't want to work. It's crazy.

I don't understand that. But anyway, here's some steps to take for that for this rescue for a turnaround plan, if you will. The first thing is document document document. Really take note of where this team member is not performing up to standard. I tend to do everything in Evernote. So I will have an Evernote swipe. And when I say document I mean dates, links if you have them screenshots of things, whatever you can use to justify your position. If you're collecting this over a certain period of time and you're looking back, we're going to forget all these little things, but document them and you're going to want them documented. For Reason. I'll get to that in a second of really why you want to make sure they're documented. It's not it's partially for you just so we don't allow ourselves to get you know the kind of either that blinders that we put on, or sometimes sometimes or, you know, we get triggered by one thing. And we think, Oh, man, I need to have an intervention with this person, and you look back at the record is like, oh, it's actually not that bad, it is the one or two mess ups. Okay, we can tighten that up without a full rescue re onboarding plan. With that design a plan to get them back on track, we, you likely have some kind of plan for when you're bringing someone new into the company, maybe even the plan you use when you brought them into the company, the train up plan to become acclimated to what the company does to what their role is. So, you know, revisit that design a plan with either remedial training, I like to use the term re onboarding is a term I like to use. Because you're bringing them back into the fold, you're putting them through a deliberate plan to up their performance level. And that will include a lot of interaction with you, whenever I do onboarding with a new team member, they get my face a lot. So we're on Zoom, typically daily, during that initial time period, even if it's just for five to 10 minutes to check base, make sure everything is good, we can do that on Slack, for sure, we can do our Voxer or Asana or whatever you're using. But there is something about that face to face interaction. Because you're trying to build that relationship, right. Especially if you're in a remote environment, this is your chance to get really close with that person to establish that trust. And so you're gonna want to do this for like an retrain up plan or re onboarding plan for someone that's not performing at the level that they really need to be at. So design that plan, make it 3060 90 days long, something about something like that, have it extended out. And documented, put it into your project management system.

So it is it's something you can be accountable to they can be accountable to. And you know, that tends to work the best when we do have everything fully nested out. Alright, the next step, you need to schedule a meeting with them. And that's never comfortable. But you also don't want to blind some blindside them. So you need to let them know, Hey, we're going to have a meeting, let me know when you're free on this day of the week, you get to set the parameters on that. So a time that's good for you. And make sure they know it's about their performance, like, Hey, man, we just need to, we need to meet this week, I just want to talk to you about your performance in some areas of growth or some opportunity that I see for you. So let it be positive, you don't want to put them on the defensive by just saying we need to talk about your performance. What does that mean? If you've ever worked corporate means to do get in can pack up your crap. You know, we all know that. So let them know ahead of time, look, we need to talk about your performance. I think there's a lot of opportunity, there's a lot of cool things that we can do. But let's let's link up tomorrow at 10am. For example, just just some really cool ideas, and you know, I want to I want to spend the time with you to see how we can, you know, increase your your input to the team, things like that, when you frame it with that positive mindset, a, they're gonna sleep that night. That's a good thing. And I be up all night thinking that they're getting canned. Be they're not going to come in all super defensive, ready to defend themselves. That's not what you want. You don't want this, this is not an argument. It's not a discussion. It's not a debate about whether or not they're not performing well, you've already established that. So don't let yourself get into that discussion. Get into that debate. One way you can do that is by setting the framework and letting them know, Hey, this is a positive meeting. This is something that there's opportunity here, not we need to talk about your performance, you know that you know, bad manager talk that we all heard of before. When you open that meeting, you know, be in a good place before do some meditation, be ready, be ready to get yelled at, maybe be ready for their pushback, be ready to defend yourself in a calm way, the more calm you are, they're going to mirror that back. We know this, it's science where Mirroring is very much a thing. People will act the way that they are being acted towards. So if you come in and you're strung up, they're going to get strung up immediately. If you are relaxed, calm and professional about it, they're going to want to I mean human nature is they're going to want to hear that.

That's the key. Make that clear from the beginning. You are the good guy in this situation. Believe it or not, you might be the one bringing this to the desk, but you are the only guy in the company that can save their job and make it clear at that point. This is to save their job. Like we need to improve the performance in this area, this area and this area, or we're gonna have to start thinking in new directions. Okay, so let them know like this is your chance buddy.

I always like to bring up some of the issues that I have Saying no vague BS, literally like, hey, on Monday, September 3, you blew off this customer, you incorrectly did X, Y or Z, you know, make it specific. When you're specific, the more information you give them, that will avoid them going on the defensive. They're going back. Oh, I didn't know anyone saw that. Oh, yeah, that was bad, wasn't it. So you're, you're making them be a little bit introspective, and not defensive towards you. So be very specific about what brought you here, and then start to paint the picture of what's possible. So in so many ways, this Gosh, everything's like a sales call, I swear, the more I do this, the more I'm like, there's so many aspects of sales that are just in every little thing I'm doing, it's crazy. So at that point, communicate the action steps. Let them know the plan. To save their job to turn around their performance, give it to them crystal clear. I, at this point, I tend to like to do a screen share and little like, Hey, here's your plan. Here's how we're going to do this. And we'll meet every day for the next seven so weeks to go through this plan together. Do you have any questions for me? Do you agree with this plan of action, get their buy in at that point, okay. And finally, at the end of it, you need to make sure I should probably set or lead with this, but either way, record this call, have it recorded, have it documented, put it in to a folder on the Google Drive, that's leadership only, just in case you ever need this for HR, or if they try any lawsuits or anything like that, like things can get weird. It's better to have backups and things cordoned off somewhere and saved somewhere just in case you need them.

All right. So that's really just a rescuing. In a nutshell, it sounds simple, it is simple. In terms of the steps, the actual execution is on you, it's this is going to be a place where the culture and the interpersonal relationships that you've built up over the time in your company are really going to pay off. So that's all capital you've been building the whole time. Now it's time to cash that check. So cashing that check, use it here. And if you do this correctly, you know, one of two things is gonna happen, they are either gonna up their performance, get back to the level where they need to be. And your, your relationship with them is gonna be like, 20 times tighter after this period, because they're gonna be like, That's the dude that say my job. That's the guy that cared enough to go out of his way to show me what to do to help me. And I'm now still on this team, I still have this job because of that guy. What kind of capital does that buy you in terms of being a team leader, that's huge. So own that, and know that is the anticipated and the ideal outcome. But, you know, be prepared for it not to be, you know, there are cases where you're going to go about this. And it's not going to work. And they're not going to level up their performance. But you've done all you can, and no one can take that away from you, no one can hold that against you. And that's part of this whole thing, right? We all at some point will have to let someone go. It's inevitable. And as one of my mentors said, like, you're really not doing them a service by keeping them on. If they're not up to the job anymore. You're holding them back from what they're really not supposed to be doing. Because their zone of genius is probably going to be found somewhere else. So you're not doing them any favors, and remember that you're not doing them any favors by excusing, poor performance.

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© Adam Liette Marketing