Make employees responsible for performance

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Over the course of the year I speak at several state HME association meeting, non-healthcare meetings, and have spoken at Medtrade for the past 21 years. Whenever the topic is Talent Management, I like to ask the following question: “How much time should a manager spend to make sure those who have been hired and trained are doing the job for which they have been hired and trained?” I ask attendees to throw out a number and I usually get responses of 10%-50%. At one meeting an attendee said that is all she does all day long. The answer, if anyone is wondering is.....0%. That is correct; zero, zilch, nada. Or, in my best Southern drawl, “none of it”. Now, I will clarify. I am referencing an employee who has been trained and ready to do the job. I am not talking about the manager’s coaching, directing, and supporting activities. I am talking about an employee who intentionally is not working toward completing tasks for which they have been hired and trained. In the human resource world, we call this Employee Engagement. My goal for my remaining space in this article is to provide the ingredients necessary to effectively manage employee performance. I am also going to demonstrate a process that is unemotional and makes the job of managing people easier. After all, the monetary value of our human capital is productivity and the level of productivity affects the bottom line.

One assumption I am making is that a job description has been provided for each position and the expectations for each employee has been clearly and concisely communicated. If there is ANY doubt that an employee fully understands what is expected, then the training process has not been completed.

Employee performance management is establishing an understanding about what is to be accomplished at a department or company level for each employee. It is about aligning the organizations objectives (why we are in business) with the employees agreed upon measurable goals (the job for which they have been hired). Whenever the employee goals are not being met, then a proactive and progressive performance plan must be created.

The first step is outlining the specific goals, task, or activities that are not meeting expectations. For example: “On March 21, 24, 29, and April 4, you did not scan the delivery/pick-up tickets in the shared file folder”. Or, “You did not meet your monthly sales quota of $24,000 in January or February”. Or, for a standard job performance issue, “You had an unexcused absence on March 15 and 16, and were 30 minutes late on March 20”. The issue could be related to unacceptable behavior. For example: “On April 5 you yelled at your co-workers in your pod and used inappropriate and vulgar language that was heard by the entire office”. The specific performance and/or behavior that is not meeting expectations is provided in as much detail as possible.

The second step is to remind the employee of the performance goal and/or behavior expectation. For example: “On page 17 of the employee handbook it states clearly that all employees are to be treated with respect and vulgar, demeaning, or offensive language is not allowed in the office”. It is very important to clearly communicate the expectation in performance or behavior. The employee should know that you will be holding them accountable for improvement. This is where good coaching comes in. The manager should emphasize that he or she is always available to help or answer questions if the goal is not clear. The manager should make it clear that if a conflict arises that might create tension between employees, he or she is available to assist in resolving an issue before it escalates.

The last step is crucial for this process to work. The consequences of the performance not meeting expectations or the behavior occurring again must be clearly communicated. For example: “Failure to scan the delivery/pick-up tickets in the shared file folder will result in a second written warning”. Or, “Future behavior to co-workers using vulgar, inappropriate, or offensive language will result in further disciplinary action up to, and including possible termination of employment.”

It is very important for the manager to be as positive as possible while communicating each step to the employee. It is also important to put all of this in writing. I always encourage open dialogue to allow the employee to express the opinion or vent. At the end, the manager places the responsibility for improvement squarely on the employee. “Before we leave this meeting it is important that you realize that if we discuss this matter again, it will result in (the specific consequence). I don’t want that to happen, but I cannot control the outcome, it is totally up to you. I am here to help and support, but you have to meet the expectations we discussed.”

If this process is consistent, objective, and fair, it will improve performance, change behavior, or remove the employee from the company. The result is a healthier and productive workforce. And, I think every provider could use that.

Richard Davis is president and founder of higherPowerHR. He can be reached at richard@hirepowerhr.com.