How To Help Nice But Underperforming Employees

It’s a tricky situation when you have a great person on your sales team who just isn’t that great at their job. They work well with everyone on the team and have a friendly personality, but for whatever reason, they’re ineffective in their role. You may like this employee as a person, but their underperformance is hurting everyone—your sales team, your company and your clients.

So, what can you do? According to Adyna Akins, a performance improvement manager with Insperity, it’s critical to diagnose what’s going on so you can begin working toward a resolution. We share Akins’ tips on how to help nice but underperforming employees in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Define how the employee isn’t meeting expectations. Before you have a conversation with your sales rep, you should be clear about how they aren’t performing well. Are they consistently late showing up to work, not making the assigned number of cold calls each week, slow to respond to client emails? Akins suggests creating a list of facts related to the issues that need to be addressed. By focusing on the facts, she says you can move past the discomfort of critiquing the employee’s performance.

Consider obstacles your sales rep may face. Your employee is a likable person who probably wants to do a good job. Dig into what may be preventing them from living up to performance expectations or maintaining good work habits. They may need to develop a certain skill set or they may have a distracting personal issue. While you can make notes about what you think the obstacles are, Akins says you should not assume your guesses are correct. You can get to the root of the issue during a conversation with your employee.

Sit down for a coaching session. The next step to helping a nice but underachieving sales rep is to talk with the employee using a coaching approach. Akins recommends saying something like, “I’d like to discuss your recent performance. It’s important as it affects each client and the team.” You can then follow with the facts and then ask the employee if they have also noticed this and what might be impeding them.

Give your sales rep ownership of the solution. Oftentimes, friendly, outgoing people will want to take responsibility for correcting the situation, notes Akins. You can help guide your employee there by asking questions such as, “What ideas do you have?” and “What steps do you think you should take?”

Seek alternative solutions. If coaching doesn’t work and your employee doesn’t make meaningful improvement, it may be time to find another role—either inside or outside your organization, says Akins. If your employee is a nice person, they are probably stressed that they are not living up to expectations. You can help them discover their professional strengths and where they might find more success by asking questions such as, “What would you like to do more of at work?” and “What part of your job do you really love?”

When a well-liked and personable sales rep isn’t performing up to expectations, it’s important to find ways to help the employee. You can start by being clear about where their performance is falling short, discussing obstacles and brainstorming solutions. Ultimately, it’s up to the employee to improve. However, when you take steps to help them, they reap the benefits—and so does your organization.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Adyna Akins is a performance improvement manager with Insperity. She has more than 30 years of experience in organizational development.

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