Today’s businesses move at a breakneck place, and you need employees who can keep up. Working environments are no longer full of drones trudging along, typing spreadsheets all day. Companies need innovative, efficient employees who continuously strive for success. But what do you do when a long-time worker – someone who’s committed and dedicated to the company – can’t seem to keep up? You don’t want to fire the person, especially if their work ethic and goals are in line with your company values. Plus, getting rid an employee simply for being slow sends a bad message to everyone else on your staff.
So what can you do? Start by trying to identify the cause of sluggishness. Not all people who work slowly are that way naturally. Your employee might be a perfectionist and spend too much time analyzing insignificant details, or he or she might be struggling with a new assignment. The culprit could also be another staff member altogether, and your slowpoke could be waiting for that person to send over a project.
Regardless of the true issue, don’t approach a slow employee with judgment. They’ll likely be put off at the start of the conversation and go on the defensive. Instead, begin by reestablishing that person’s job description, goals and commitments. Your employee might not even realize he or she is performing slowly. Reviewing the details of the job is a good way to remind the person of what is expected of him or her and reiterate how fast he or she should work.
Next, you should see if there’s anything preventing your employee from getting work done. For example, people who are constantly interrupted by coworkers needing assistance can’t meet their objectives and key results no matter how much of a rock star they are. In this case, it’s beneficial for a manager to step in and tell all their staff to direct questions to management, not their peers. If it’s not interruptions, your slow employee might be easily distracted by his or her coworkers. If this is the case, consider shuffling desks around for better productivity.
One other roadblock to speedy work is a lack of proper tools. It’s hard to input data quickly on a computer that’s 20 years old, and no one has half an hour to spend dealing with a finicky copier.
When checking in with a slow employee, don’t forget to ask if they’re doing something they enjoy and feel confident about. People who take pleasure in their work and know they do it well are naturally faster than those forced to do something they hate. Of course, it’s impossible to give everyone an assignment they’ll love each and every time. American Express’s OPEN Forum, a site for business professionals, suggested managers ensure their staff at least has a balance between what they love to do and what feels like work.
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