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Diagnosing Reasons for Poor Performance

What do you do when a team member’s performance is lacking? Before you can answer that question, you need to understand the reason for the poor performance. Otherwise, the corrective action you take may have no impact at all. The primary reasons for poor performance are:

1. The employee can’t do the job. The person is simply incapable of doing what is expected of them. He or she may be physically, intellectually, or even psychologically incapable. The problem here is in the selection process: How did you end up with someone in a job they are incapable of doing?

2. The employee doesn’t know how to do the job. Now we are assuming that the person is capable and knows what to do but is lacking the skills or knowledge of how to perform as required. This is a learning problem, and I emphasize learning rather than training. Some training or coaching does not result in the person learning to perform.

3. The employee doesn’t want to do the job. The person is capable, knows what to do, and knows how—but has a motivation problem. Why doesn’t this person want to perform? What do we need to do to engage him or her?

Diagnosing the reasons for less than optimum performance is an important leadership skill. When you are clearer about the cause, it is much easier to implement the most effective solution.

Keith Ayers


Integro Leadership Institute

West Chester, Pa.

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