Dealing With Poor Employee Performance: Is eLearning A "Silver Bullet"?

Dealing With Poor Employee Performance: Is eLearning A "Silver Bullet"?
Summary: According to a survey by international pollster Gallup, only 13% of the world's workforce is "engaged" at work. Out of a roughly 180 million employees in 142 countries polled, a staggering 63% responded that they were not totally committed to their work. Invariably, that "noncommittal" ultimately translates into poor performance. So what drives employees to perform poorly? What interventions can organizations put in place to deal with the challenge? And, is there room for eLearning and instructional design to deal with declining employee performance? This article is the first in a series about Dealing with Poor Poor Employee Performance. Check it out and learn some of the ways to improve poor employee performance.

Uprooting The Roots Of Poor Employee Performance

Very often, management equates poor employee performance to lack of training or experience. However, poor employee performance is often a symptom of many underlying root causes and unless those root causes are studied and addressed, spending time and effort on training and education might not be the best use of limited corporate resources.

In fact, most poor employee performance situations need interventions other than training to address them effectively.

Here Are 5 Ways To Improve Employee Performance.

  1. Leadership selection programs
    Most employers do not realize it, but the biggest single driver of poor employee performance is poor supervision. When employees are put in a situation where they lack effective leadership, their performance often takes a hit. Nonetheless, a surprising number of employers still do not give manager selection the attention it deserves.  Often, leaders who inspire, motivate and empower their teams are the best "cure" for poor performance. Along with leadership responsibilities though, comes the need to interact more closely with team members. Select the right leadership, equip them with appropriate people management soft skills, and your employees will be top performers.
  2. Employee support programs
    When managers become aware of poor employee performance, the immediate reaction is "How do I discipline" the employee for performing poorly - absenteeism, tardiness, missing deadlines, not doing the work the right way, etc. Instead of taking that approach, why not focus on the root cause of poor employee performance. What if there is a personal issue plaguing the employee? If so, disciplining is not the right answer.  Perhaps recommending counseling or other interventions might help with poor employee performance. Investing in adequate support programs, for instance to manage personal finance, to deal with new-parenting situations, to confront addictions etc., can often lead to huge returns in the form of a peak performing workforce.
  3. Reward and recognition programs
    Too often companies ignore the power of rewards and recognition. Implementing recognition programs not only "pay" employees for past performance, but they also incentivize future performance. Feeling respected and recognized amongst their peers inspires employees to become better performers. Rewarding or recognizing an employee does not always have to be monetary transactions. In fact, some employees would much rather have their accomplishments published in the company’s newsletter than receive a $50 gift certificate. Taylor your reward and recognition programs to fit the work environment, and they will have a more positive impact on combating poor employee performance.
  4. Performance review programs
    Too often poor employee performance is flagged once it has already taken deep roots in the employee’s psyche. Unfortunately, when that happens, addressing the issue is often harder than addressing it in its early stages.  That is where Performance Review Programs (PRPs) can help. A good Performance Review plan should be designed not to actively seek out poor employee performance, but to ensure that poor employee performance is highlighted well before it becomes rampant. To be effective, performance reviews should be conducted at least once a year (preferably twice), with more frequent (monthly or quarterly) feedback mechanisms built into them. Managers must always go prepared to these sessions with specific "evidence" of poor employee performance, or else the meetings could devolve into fruitless accusation sessions.
  5. Mentoring and Coaching Programs
    Very few employers have formal mentoring or coaching programs in the workplace. However, these programs can often offer grassroots intervention to poor performing employees. In some instance, due to the environment of the work place, formal mentoring might not be possible. In such environments, "informal" approaches could prove fruitful. Whether it is a formal ("Lets meet in the conference room tomorrow....") or informal ("Lets chat at lunch break...") approach that's used, the mere fact that employees have someone to turn to for assistance with poor employee performance can be of tremendous value to the organization and the employee.

In Part 2 of this article, we will talk about the role of eLearning in performance improvement.

If you want to learn more about Instructional Design and eLearning, please check out the Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book. This book is also available in Spanish