From Average to Amazing – Turn Your Underperformers into High Achievers

16 Oct 2015 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Here are our six secrets on how to turn the average into amazing.

1. Look at the facts

The key is not to assign blame to personality. If an employee is not meeting targets, it’s very likely that they won’t be in a good place and their self-confidence will have taken a knock. Just as you did when you hired them, remove all subjectivity from your management process. Sit down and have a meeting about how to move forward. Use past facts and figures in order to establish what they need to focus on in order to get better results.  Discuss what has stopped them achieving the results they want. The pivot of their underperformance should not be about them as a person. It’s facts and figures all the way.

2. Build more rapport

Work out if the underperformance is skill or will. If they just haven't nailed a particular skill, then put some training in place; if they have reached a point where they have lost the will to succeed, then sit down with them to help them connect with why they're there and what their purpose is. Ask yourself if you really understand what's important to them in their job and career. If you don’t fully understand what makes them tick, it’s time for a chat. You need to establish a deeper rapport – look for things in common, share stories around those things and build a bond of trust.

3. Stop answering their questions!

Any Head of Comms who has had training on how to coach employees will know that a ‘mother hen’ approach to building a high performing team isn’t ever going to succeed. Most experienced PR consultants will know the answers, so step back and let them discover them. They will make mistakes – and they should, as that’s how they learn best.  Our recent Salary Survey showed that ownership of role and feeling of empowerment feature in the top three factors when PR and Comms professionals look for a new role. So stop giving them all the answers – give ownership, and watch levels of satisfaction and success rise. 

4. Believe in them

If you treat each member of your team, including the underperformers, like a high achiever and challenge them in the same way, the stretch will carry them forward. More importantly, they need to feel that the boss believes that they can do it. When they feel your belief and hear your encouragement, they will automatically feel more motivated and be in a better place to turn their struggles into successes.  

5. Give encouragement

This may sound like another obvious sounding piece of advice – but it’s not just about celebrating the big wins. Remember to mark the smaller successes too. Make sure you are giving recognition to your successful campaigns and the people who made it happen.  Putting a praise and supportive culture in place will help carry people forward.

6. Stick or carrot?

Do you know if your team members are motivated by a carrot or a stick?  Are they a ‘towards’ or ‘away from’ person?  Are they focused on goals or do they move away from the worst that can happen? In recruitment, 60% of consultants are motivated by a stick and the threat of losing their job, rather than being motivated by creating their own pay cheque.  Including employees in the process of outlining individual performance targets and asking them how they would like to improve, what they would like to achieve and the new skills they want to learn will motivate them to work hard and strive for high levels of performance.

At the end of the day, humans at work share fundamental needs that have never changed – we all want to be informed, we want our opinions to matter, we want to be involved in creating changes and improvements, and we want to be acknowledged for our efforts.  Keep this in mind and before long, you’ll be managing a dream team.

The Works specialise in placing high flyers in PR and corporate communications. We have a strong track record of placing with professional services and offer career-making advice. Do get in touch if you would like our support building your team.

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