Whether you’re a broker or a team leader, you are going to have to deal with low performing agents or assistants at some point. How you handle them needs to begin with a well-defined strategy. Your approach will directly affect their peers and your respect in the office.
Inc.com identifies some of the issues a low performer creates beyond reducing your average productivity. “Poor performers are more than just an opportunity cost. As you’re seeing, they also lower the morale of everyone around them, send signals to other employees that they don’t need to perform well themselves, lower the overall bar of accountability in your culture, and suck up an inordinate amount of time in supervision.”
Step 1: Identify the Cause
There are a number of reasons for performance issues including inexperienced, situational (slump, exhaustion, emotional turbulence, coasting toward retirement), or the most dreaded – incompetence. Knowing what and documenting the issue is key. You’re going to need to have a conversation with them, so you want to provide adequate examples of behavior patterns and potentially how their patterns are disrupting the work environment
Step 2: Solicit Feedback from the Low Performer
Your research may not have the full perspective. There may be something that’s temporarily affecting the problem or they may not have picked up a best practice that could dramatically alter the situation. The goal here is to listen actively and give them a chance to clear the air about what’s really going on.
Step 3: Give Feedback
This could be tacked on to step 2 if there is no new information, or it could take place another time, but you need to provide the agent or assistant with timely, constructive feedback. If you’re not comfortable with this, check out ManagerTools.com’s series on feedback. They need to understand that you haven’t written them off, that you are having concerns about their performance and that you want to help them improve. This needs to be done in a polite, productive manner to avoid reinforcing any negativity.
Step 4: Coaching
Plan follow up sessions with them to help them excel. They may need a mentor, training, or a partner who complements their skill set. Identify resources to make that happen. As this progresses, make sure that you provide them with an opportunity to tell their side of the story and when you provide further feedback, make sure that you provide specific examples of when their actions have not been in line with expectations. Part of this planning should be to identify rewards or consequences
Step 5: Implement Rewards/Consequences
If they’ve taken the coaching to heart and vastly improved, make sure to celebrate their victories as you want to retain them. If they haven’t, you’re going to have some hard decisions ahead of you and you need to take into account how those decisions will affect the rest of your team/office. If they are an employee, make sure you have documented the process thoroughly.