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Handling performance problems as an HR Manager

So you have a performance problem with someone in your global work team? Here’s how I as your company’s HR Manager’s can help you strategize how to identify the cause and marshall the company’s resources to fix the problem. First and foremost I can help you plan your moves in the investigation of the problem, so that you get the real answer, and do not add actionable cause to the employee’s case should the final outcome be termination. By following my checklist, such as the one below, you will also get much more information by talking to the right people, and identifying solvable from insoluble issues.

The first thing the I recommend is that you make a clear answer to the question: What is the nature of the employees work problem? Are they slow in accomplishing their assignments slow work, but the quality of output is satisfactory? Is their output slow and the quality bad? Is the output quick, but the quality poor? Or does the work fail to cooperate with others on the project? The individual’s immediate supervisor, as well as the next person on the output chain should be consulted. Any one of these situations is not necessarily the fault of the employee, so the matter needs to be investigated further.

The next question I want you to answer: Is the problem a global network problem? Is the global network providing the employee with the resources needed for the job? Are the resources getting to the local team site on time? Are the company’s goals communicated clearly and on time? How frequently are the goals changing? Is the mechanism for output return working efficiently? Answers to these questions will require talking to many people in the global network, in order to build an objective picture of how the system is working.

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People you need to consult include regional and local managers or resources. If the global network is fine then I want you to know: Is it a local resource problem? Once the global resources are delivered to the local site, is the mechanism for their distribution timely and adequate? Poor performance by a local point in the global network could be the result of local resource mismanagement. You probably will need to interview other employees at the same level as the individual in question, to see whether there is any grassroots unhappiness in resource allocation.

In the event there is no comparable group of individuals then you may have to do your own investigative work, and ask for a list of essential resources needed for the job, and order/delivery logs to make your own judgment. The final systemic problem you need to evaluate is: Is the problem a personnel organization problem? Is this the right team of individual for the project? What is the right number of people needed? Is the employee properly trained for the task and is such training available?

Finally, is there an opportunity for the employee to gain recognition for his efforts in either the local or global network? Both local managers and other employees performing similar functions should be consulted. Team organization problems can also lead to communication problems and unclear expectations. You should compare the actual and perceived expectations on the part of employees for the project. I will want to know how the expectations are being communicated, orally, email/fax, or paper memos?

Which mode is most reliable for the local site? Have local managers provided a system for the employee to track expectations and accomplishments? Is there a mechanism for employee feedback about resource problems that has a chance to produce results? Finally, after exhausting all other questions as HR manager I will ask you to help assess whether the employees performance problem can be linked to personal problems? For this, I will want a personal interview with the employee, and if possible other employees on similar assignments.

Questions I will ask include: Is there is bad morale on the team? When did it start and what do you think is the cause? Are the workstyles of team members and the individual or concern different? Is a certain workstyle essential to accomplish the assignment? Does the employee have personal crises, health or personality issues? Can they be fixed by training? Is the employee properly assigned? Are employees aware of awards, incentives and training opportunities that could help them perform better? Is time allocated for employees to pursue these incentives?

Armed with all this additional information, we can be sure that our company has created the conditions necessary for employee success. Termination of the employee should be pursued as a last resort since it wastes all the money and time the company has already invested in the individual. In the event performance is still not improved, despite fixing any systemic problems, you will have accumulated all the documentation needed to initiate termination, protecting the company from lawsuits. You will have also improved the situation for existing employees and new hires.

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