Richard Branson is famous for many things, but perhaps one of his most well-known quotes states that employees should always come first. Look after your employees, he says, and they will look after your clients. Of course, it makes sense that we should be paying attention to our employees – they are the ones keeping the business moving, after all. And what can happen when an employee is no longer happy in their role? They leave the company, and you need to find someone else who can do their job. But is it really the company they are leaving?

Those of us who use LinkedIn have more than likely come across the much-shared meme that states : People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers. We might also be familiar with Gary Vaynerchuck, the outspoken CEO of Vayner Media. Hold yourself accountable! He exclaims. It’s not your employee that’s the problem, it’s you! If you find that your employees just don’t seem to be doing what you need them to do, then yes, you have a problem on your hands. However, rather than laying all the blame solely on your employees, have you ever considered that maybe Gary is right, and you are part of the problem?

Let’s turn the focus inward for a moment and look at three areas that many managers commonly struggle with.

Communication of expectations

Do your employees know what is expected of them? Sure, you think. They received a job description when they started, they know why they were hired and what their targets are. What more can you do? Quite a lot, actually. An employee may not always be aware of their specific goals, especially if they are working on many different tasks. You should always be clear with your employees about the exact goals they need to be working towards, which goals should be taking priority, and what kind of timeframe they have to work with. You can also make them aware of how their accomplishment will contribute to the overall success of the department. SMART goals tend to be reserved for performance reviews and PIPs, but they can be just as important to define and discuss in your regular one to ones. Remember – just because the employees’ goals are clear to you as their manager, your employees might not always have the same vantage point.

False assumptions

You have noticed consistent missed targets and poor performance from your employee. You go to speak with them and find them mid-conversation with a colleague about something non work-related. Typical, you think to yourself, no wonder their work is poor! In that moment, without even speaking to them, you have come to a conclusion about why their work is suffering. However, things are never black and white. Perhaps they are struggling due to a lack of resources, or are going through a tough time in their personal life? Misdiagnosing the cause for their performance problems means the steps you put in place to improve them won’t be helpful. Instead, have regular, open discussions with employees. Encourage them to come to you with any issues they may be experiencing.

Lack of feedback

So, you might be constantly telling them what they are doing wrong, but have you ever told them what they are doing right? Giving employees feedback for when things go right is just as important as letting them know when their work isn’t up to scratch. Not only does positive feedback make an employee feel valued and motivated, it also shows them what their standard should be and how they can get there.

These three areas for consideration barely scratch the surface of what it means to be a responsible manager. Fulfilling this role is demanding, and none of us get it perfect all of the time, no matter how hard we try. That’s why there are training courses and workshops dedicated to helping managers improve their management style, and tonnes of online resources that can also help. However, you will find that the more responsibility you can take for your employees’ performance the more confident you will be in your ability to properly deal with issues as they arise.

Got a question about how to deal with an employee that is constantly under-performing? Chat to us in Insight HR on 056-7701060.