Industry Update
Opinion Article 7 February 2020

How to Get That Wayward Employee’s Attention

By John Ragsdale Hendrie, Customer Experience Facilitator at Hospitality Performance

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In this new world of changing market dynamics, we have the typical response - we ask more of our employees. In many cases, we just pile on the extra assignments, "rewarding" our top employees with additional work and responsibilities. Many times, we do not even provide the proper training or resources to perform the job(s). Across the board we are demanding more for or with less. We end up with overburdened employees or those who simply are not interested in excelling or paying attention to the demands of the work. Our customers suffer; you are frustrated.


The employee who is not contributing is the real challenge. Many managers would like to use the old 2×4, smacked against the head approach. Well, I'll see you in court. That action will not work, yet something must be done - employee salvage or termination, for your business cannot support the non-performer. How do you get their attention to turnaround (or not) their performance?

Discussions are always tough, as the employee response is usually unknown, and most managers do not want to address performance deficiency, face to face. It can be a nervous conversation. Hopefully, you had tried counseling. Perhaps, you have warned the employee formally, in writing. No matter, the poor performance continues, and you must act and prepare a plan to turn that performance around.

here are two ways to look at your response. One, preferably, you want to change behavior and keep the employee on the payroll. Secondly, in these litigious times, you want to protect yourself from wrongful termination should your plan not salvage that employee.

So, a performance improvement plan is established, created by you and activated by the employee. Quite simply, you have identified the performance level and type to be attained with examples, an appropriate time frame for performance application and improvement and a means to evaluate the change in performance. The employee needs to understand that failure to successfully complete this plan of action can result potentially in discharge. Naturally, you remain committed to make this work, by providing counsel, perhaps resources, certainly reviewing and documenting the changes in performance, per plan. The result will be either a more dedicated, enriched employee or an opportunity for a new hire.

Many managers say that the effort is too much - excessive time, documentation, dedication. Many managers have not faced lawsuits or spent time in court. The application of a performance improvement plan is worthwhile and fair for the organization, the impacted department and the employee. Let's get back to business!

John Ragsdale Hendrie

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