This is the seventh and final episode in a series focusing on how to successfully take over a new team. Today we are talking about addressing underperformance. Yesterday we talked about talent assessments. These two episodes go hand in hand and help you determine how you assess your talent in order to move your team forward.
Remember, you created this team, or you were put over this team to raise the bar and drive change. In order to do that, you have to assess your talent and have honest conversations with your team individually on where they are. Praise conversations are easy. Anyone can do those. But true Legends have fierce conversations and give candid feedback to underperformers. It will never serve you to allow underperformance to exist on your team. So how do you handle it?
The first step started between 45 days to 3 months after you took the role, when you had the initial conversations regarding talent and their talent assessments. You didn’t push too hard then because trust was still being built and you need to ensure when you have these conversations, they don’t have happen too early into your role. Why? Because if you have them too early, your team will blame you for their failures, instead of them owning them. So let’s just avoid that and not have these conversations until at least the 3rd month you are in role, but no later than 6 months into the role.
When you do your talent assessment you are going to know which bucket the underperformer fits into. We already talked about personal issues, that one has been solved. You simply put them on notice, asking them and encouraging them to take time away for themselves because you will be forced to deliver discipline per the discipline policy if they continue to work and underperform. At the end of the day, whatever they decide, you have to follow through on.
Now, for the underperformance due to capacity or training plans, these are true underperformance you can address. So let’s talk about both.
For capacity, this is where you realize you have raised the bar in asking them to deliver to the 3-5 items as part of your brand, and they are not able to deliver on them. In either situation, capacity or training, you are going to always ask questions. You need them to give you the answers so that they too realize the same answers within themselves.
First, start with clarifying if the underperformance is coming because of your leadership. Are you not clear? Are you not giving enough time to execute? Ask them if it’s you/your leadership. Then quietly wait for the answer. If it’s you, fix it. You can control that. Then assess their performance again.
If it’s not you, ask if they need more training or tools. If they do, give it and reassess. If they don’t, then ask what the issue is. Why are they underperforming?
Sit quietly and let them answer you. Make them say it. If they are asking for things or backpedaling, challenge that. Remind them that you have removed those barriers and the solutions are working, etc. Your goal, if you make it to this point, is to help them see they are the gap in the equation. If they admit that, then you have a very easy conversation about how to help them be successful on another team. If they don’t admit it, remind them that you are fair and consistent, and that they have to perform or you will follow the discipline policy. Those that won’t own the issue will have to be coached out of the job. They won’t see it any other way.
For those that needed a training plan to address underperformance, either the plan works or it doesn’t.
If they can’t execute the plan, they move into the “capacity” group and you go through the same pathway we just outlined.
This can and should be used with all teams regularly when you need to address underperformance.