Subscribe to My Feed   Follow Me On Twitter   Join Me On LinkedIn   Friend Me On Facebook

Stop Sweeping Performance Issues Under the Rug

Most motivated employees can manage and improve an area of weakness, but only if they are made aware of the issue and are coached.

Case in Point

Steve has been with a technology company for more than eight years going back to when they were a start-up. He is a talented, post-sale technical support engineer who knows the product inside and out and is invaluable in helping customers solve technical problems. But Steve wants to get out of technical support and into sales as a sales engineer. He sees a role for himself in the sales process, and wants to get out of the office and have the opportunity to make more money. Steve has expressed this interest to his boss, who also manages the entire sales organization. Steve’s perspective is that he has the skills for a sales engineering position and deserves consideration for an open sales engineer position based on his skill set, tenure, and contributions to the company. However, Steve does not believe he is being given fair consideration for the position – a situation which Steve admits is affecting his attitude as of late. Finally, if the position is filled from the outside Steve would consider this the last straw and begin looking for a job outside the company. In our case study example, the opportunity existed to make Steve – to improve his customer facing demeanor and provide him with an opportunity to grow within the organization. Instead Steve’s prospects for moving into a job that matches his interests, ability and potential have been short circuited.

Shame on Steve’s Boss

It is important to note that Steve’s boss was keenly aware of the issue but chose instead to sweep it under the rug rather than use the information to help Steve overcome his reputation for behaving like the "class clown."

HR’s Role

Encouraging and enabling effective, on-going performance discussions and coaching between managers and employees is a perfect place for HR to step up and contribute to organizational success.

How HR Can Help

HR is positioned to bridge the communication chasm between employees and managers which was illustrated in our case study and is very common in the real world. Managers are in a unique position to know their employees’ strengths and areas for development.  Most employees who are aware of their one greatest area for development can and will make progress toward improving in that area.

HR has the opportunity to take a more active role in ensuring that managers are regularly communicating key messages to their employees and not relying solely on the once- or twice-a-year formal performance review process.

Furthermore, HR needs to ensure that managers have the know-how and skills to take their observations about performance and confidently and effectively engage in these discussions with positive outcomes.

Final Word

In the case of Steve, a technical support engineer aspiring to a greater customer- facing role but lacking the professional presence and polish required for such a position, HR needs to take the lead in getting Steve’s manager to talk about the one area for development and provide Steve with coaching. At the very least Steve should have the opportunity to become aware of his manager’s perceptions and be given the chance to work on translating his informal office personality into an appropriately professional business demeanor. Given how motivated he is to move into the sales engineering role there would be a good chance that he would be successful.

The cost of avoiding performance feedback is very high for both individuals and organizations. We all have a responsibility to take on those performance conversations no matter how daunting they might seem.

It is always a disservice to the employee and the organization to take the path of least resistance and sweep these types of issues under the rug.

Copyright © 2010

Comments are closed.