Why are employers turning a blind eye to poor performance?

Employees don’t normally just fall into the categories of good performers and bad performers.

Some employees are leaders. Others are happy to let others take the lead and work hard to achieve the goals set. Some are happy to coast along and do only what is necessary. There may also be a handful of employees who are simply not working to the required level.

Why do employers put up with poor performance?

Employers often turn a blind eye and fail to tackle performance for one or a combination of the following reasons:

1.       Lack of knowledge and experience

Line managers may have an informal chat with the employee. In this discussion, they can highlight the issues, set out the expected levels of performance, explore the reasons why the employee is underperforming and explain how they can improve.

But after the meeting, they may notice that nothing has really changed and they are still underperforming. In these cases, some line managers are not sure what else to do. They may have a company performance management procedure in place, but do not have the confidence or experience of carrying it out in full.

2.       Concerns about the prospect of litigation

Managers may feel very concerned that if an employee feels ‘wronged’ by their employer, they will take legal action and lodge a claim at an Employment Tribunal. For employers, this is the worst case scenario because defending claims takes time, money, resource and energy. Rather than face this prospect, many will eschew taking measures to correct underperformance.

3.       Fear of confrontation

Talking about someone performance is not always straightforward. For managers, they avoid engaging in these types of awkward conversations at all costs. They are worried about the employee’s reaction, the impact that it will have on the employment relationship or that it will actually make the situation worse.

4.       Worries that the employee will just leave

Managers may be worried that when they confront the employee with their poor performance issues, the employee may decide to resign and leave the organisation. This can leave them in an even bigger hole than they were before.

Stop making excuses and take action

But the truth is that none of these reasons justify not taking action to address the poor performance. By turning a blind eye for weeks, months or even years, you are severely damaging your organisation.  Underperformance negatively impacts team morale, service delivery and reputation.

When performance issues do arise, it’s best to nip them in the bud. By taking action early on, you can prevent issues snowballing and becoming difficult issues to resolve. By seeking advice and ensuring that managers are adequately training in performance management, you can make sure you are keeping on top of performance issues and not being dragged down by all the negative effects poor performance can cause.

 Find out more about how to manage performance effectively here.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

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