How do you manage someone who is blind to their underperformance?
Have you ever worked with someone who very clearly thought their work and contributions were better than what they were actually delivering? It happens commonly in the corporate world simply because there are so many people and the politics of that world make it hard to correct that behavior. In a business that large, the likelihood of coming across someone like this is high, right?
The problem arises when this person works for you, and then they not only think they are wonderful, but in fact they are underperforming. What a perfect storm!
At the end of the day, you are responsible for helping them see the light, if possible, in order to improve their performance, and if they can’t improve, then you exit them from the company due to lack of performance. It’s pretty simple to say, but it is a long process. So how do you do it?
First, set clear expectations. Remember, we are here to help with the open book test of success on the job. So be very clear. What is their role and what does good look like? If this is clear, it should be easier for this person to measure their own personal performance.
Second, have regular touch bases where you give candid feedback. In this situation it could be tempting to overpraise because you want so badly for them to have something to feel good about. But your feedback has to be honest. Tell them you can see them trying, putting in the effort, working hard, etc. You can appreciate the effort, but help them understand the results are not there, and that they are evaluated on results. Remind them of expectations and what good looks like. Ask them for their feedback and input, and how they see themselves performing.
Last but not least, determine if they are growing through it or they remain oblivious. If they continue to not understand where they are on the performance scale, you will have to remove them from their role. That’s not a personal situation, that’s a business situation.
In the corporate world, there are general policies in place for you to follow. In your own business, you will have to establish this as part of your culture, your communication framework, your execution and productivity frameworks, etc.
At the end of the day, remember that your job is to teach, train, support, and give candid feedback. It’s their job to perform and recognize where they are on the performance scale.