If you’re concerned about an employee’s performance, ask yourself these questions.
- What would the ideal staffer do in a similar context? The bar that you use to assess performance should not be “the best this person could do,” but rather a vision of what a high-performing staff member would do in the role.
- Is the issue one of fundamental fit for the position, or one that could be resolved if you made a one-time investment of time helping the person improve? (Such help should not be unlimited, since you can’t afford to spend significant amount of time training an employee who shouldn’t need that level of help.)
- Does the staff member simply need additional knowledge to do the work well, or is the issue instead one rooted in inherent talents (like critical thinking or being able to connect well with other people) and inclinations (like thoroughness or a strong work ethic)?
- What is your gut telling you? If your gut is telling you there’s a problem, it’s probably reacting a larger body of knowledge than you realize.
- Pretend that you have a red button which, if pushed, would lead to your staff member being replaced instantaneously, without any difficult conversations or having to interview and train someone new, and with your staff member herself instantly finding a new job that she enjoyed somewhere else. Would you push the button?
- Pretend that the staff member walked into your office and told you she was leaving to take another job. Do you feel panic or relief?