A recent business trip near the Melbourne Cricket Ground got me thinking. The MCG is a place where we have seen some of Australia’s greatest sporting performances, as well as form slumps that have seen previous top players dropped from their teams. We see similarities in business, but some seem not to be able to drop their previous star players from their teams.

Many times I am talking with business owners and managers who are at their wits end as to what to do with a previously well performing employee whose recent job performance has taken a nose-dive beyond the previous credit of goodwill they have banked.

In these discussions I have discovered a historical scenario where an employee who was performing well, has been left to their own devices to develop their own agenda and have gone off track.

In doing so they may have lost sight of what the company’s initial aims for the position may have been, which in the eyes of others may be seen as a diversion of time, effort and resources in to activities not maximising their contribution the business.

So what to do?

Take the staunch line

You could take a staunch line and initiate performance management techniques with a foregone conclusion that they have past their expiry date? This might take a month or so to go through the processes, but ultimately it could be detrimental to the business through a loss of valuable IP stored in the employee’s head.

Take a soft approach:

A softer approach may just see the same undesirable behaviours or outputs continue to dig a bigger hole.

Ask yourself – Where is the love?

Other times it is clearly evident that they just may have “lost the love” and are marking time until the next opportunity comes along. This could be a while if they are not up-to-speed with the competition they face in the open employment market, while draining the company. But it is dangerous and costly to play this waiting game with them until they opt-out of the business.

Reflect on the Vision, Mission and Values:

Do they still buy-in to the vision, mission and values of the company, or worse do they know what they are? (you would be surprised by the answers to this question!). Is it still in them to be an ambassador for the company in the appropriate way?

With all of these above options, it is a need of the business to identify and address these factors quickly before any poor performance attributes can create further toxicity or become pricey.

My suggestion would be to utilise the core structures of the company to your advantage, as long as these are known, clearly communicated and embedded in to the business.

  1. Use the Vision, Mission and Values to guide a decision making process, with reference to legislation, and workplace policies and specifically the code of conduct to your advantage to get a measure of their suitability to continue.


  1. Conduct an informal discussion and run through their Big Rocks (Job Description and KPI’s) to clearly identify your performance expectations to their recent outcomes. Even ask yourself if these are still relevant. This will guide the next steps for a stay-or-go strategy. It is most likely that they realise in themselves that their performance is missing the mark.


  1. Agility is the key, and while consultation is needed if you are to make significant changes to their role, a change or refreshing of KPI’s may be what is needed to refocus them on what is important for the company.


  1. Stress how their individual performance is intrinsically linked to the overall company performance and set targets otherwise your employees can just become reactionary to the daily events and be filling their time with productive procrastination.

Each workplace has its own needs, but ultimately an employee should be a healthy contributor to the business and a business owner or manager is rightful to demand this of them.

Performance Management is a process and a difficult path that many fear to go down, but with the use of the Vision, Mission and Values and other structures of the company you can keep the businesses expectations front of mind for an employee.

Done early, done regularly and done in a way that creates useful information, you can keep your star players improving their batting and bowling averages! This is where good HR can become a profitable contribution to your business.

Author: wattsnext Group
The wattsnext Group blog is a compilation of ideas and expertise from the entire team, past and present with a few added gems from guest authors from time to time. With this collaborative approach, we can provide you with a broader perspective and high-level expertise across the small business landscape.