Tips for Handling and Motivating Employees to be More Productive
April 5, 2023
As we know, being a leader/manager in a company is not just a matter of balancing management or planning to achieve common goals. But also, knowing how to handle, motivate, and support employees who have low performance.
Employees with declining quality of work, unproductivity, and demotivation can certainly affect the overall performance of the team or company. Not only that, the morale and performance of the entire department in the company will gradually be affected too.
How to handle, motivate, and support employees with low performance
Here are some ways you can apply to handle employees with low to unproductive performance:
1. Make empathy as foundation
The first way you can apply is to try to understand them first. Because employees also have other things to deal with outside of work, instead of being sternly reprimanded - which will only add to their stress - start with empathy and compassion. For example:
❌ Instead of: "You have missed the deadline twice this month. If you miss another one, we need to seriously discuss your future here."
✅Say this: "I noticed you've been struggling to meet the deadline and I want to reach out to you. How are you? Is there anything difficult?"
❌Instead of: "Your reports in the last month were full of mistakes. I want you to fix it as soon as possible and make it better in the future."
✅Say this: "As long as you've been working here, I've always been impressed with your reports. But lately, it seems like you've been rushing and the quality has decreased. Let's talk about what happened - how can I help you improve your performance?"
See the difference? Discussing performance can be very stressful for both you and your employees. So, instead of evaluating them with stern reprimands, try to show them that you are on their side and want them to succeed.
2. Taking action with special circumstances of employees
Every employee who experiences a decline in performance can be caused by many factors. It could be due to burnout, a lack of understanding of the boss's expectations, or even extreme stress.
In each of these situations, the way to handle it can be very different. As a boss/HR, try to take action by paying attention to the employee's specific circumstances.
If the employee doesn't understand the boss's expectations
After you find out why the employee is not meeting the standard is because they don't really understand your standard, then solve it this way:
Plan a 1 on 1 and discuss their responsibilities & expectations together, give them plenty of opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback.
Set OKRs for those responsibilities so they not only understand what they need to do, but also understand the standards you expect.
Schedule more frequent meetings between the two of you to discuss their progress and workload.
Provide additional training, resources, or job shadowing for tasks they feel less confident in handling.
If the employee is experiencing burnout or extreme stress
According to Harvard Business Review, almost 60% of employees never discuss their mental health conditions in the workplace. That's why as a manager/HR, you need to approach and give them the opportunity to let you know that they are overwhelmed, burnout, or tired.
Maybe you feel less skilled at reducing burnout in employees. But here are some ways you can try to provide support and encouragement to employees:
Find out their current tasks and responsibilities and see how you can help them prioritize or even eliminate some tasks.
Schedule regular meetings specifically to connect with them about their workload and well-being.
Direct them to the mental health support and resources that you or the company currently offer.
Discuss leave options if the employee needs a long time off from work.
Make sure HR/manager plays a role in this, so disengagement and turnover don't occur in the company. Because in fact, 70% of employees say they will leave their company to get better resources to reduce burnout.
3. Keep monitoring the situation to see what happens next
After you have addressed the performance issues and provided adequate support and guidance to the employee, your work is not done yet. Now you need to monitor their progress.
Have you seen an improvement in their performance? Or is everything still the same—or perhaps even worse?
However, it should also be noted that some employees do not improve. Maybe they are not a good fit for the team or company culture. Or perhaps they are truly no longer invested in their job and actively seeking new employment.
If the employee continues to fail to meet expectations (despite your best efforts to assist them), you must decide when it is time to make the difficult decision and put them on a formal performance improvement plan or even let them go from the company.
It is not an easy choice to make or a pleasant discussion to have, but it is important to ensure that you do not allow a low-performing employee to continue sabotaging team morale and motivation overall.
Dealing with underperforming employees can be a challenge for everyone involved. Employees feel constantly monitored and evaluated, but you have no choice but to observe them.
This may be a difficult situation for you but approaching it with empathy and then taking the right steps shows the entire team that you want to help every member of the team succeed. So, make sure you follow the steps on how to handle low-performing employees this time.
Mindtera is here to help companies solve high employee turnover, low performance, and increase productivity with end-to-end solutions.