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Ask Allen: How do I critique employees who believe they are doing well, but are falling short?

How do you approach an employee when they say they know how to do something, but it is evident that they don’t, based on the work that they have done.

Managing four months

First, a well run business should have ongoing cross training and succession plans in place in order to function well when any other employee cannot function, for whatever reason. In that event, it may be that the employee in your question would be able to see the discrepancies in the way that he or she is performing vis-à-vis the proper procedure that you want followed. This approach would have the added benefits of cross training.

Second, I suggest that

  1. You call a private meeting with the employee. It should be held in your office. Mention that, while there are usually different ways to accomplish specific tasks, your company has developed a particular methodology to be followed for each task. Let the employee know that you welcome his or her suggestions as to the best method to use (you may learn something), but advise them that in order for the team to function properly, when a procedure is established, everyone should follow it until it may be changed at some future date.

  2. Ask the employee to walk you through how he or she performs that specific task. Use corrective points as you discover them. Always tell the employee why “we are doing it this way.” Be sure and let the employee know to call on you for help as needed.

  3. If the problem persists, call the employee back in, explain that for the entire team to accomplish its goals efficiently all players must be on the same page following company procedures. Ask the employee if he or she has any problems in doing that. If the circumstance warrants it, use this for a “final chat,” which establishes dates for compliance; and advise that if we can’t have the matter corrected by X date, you (the company) may need to make some personnel decisions.

  4. An option, prior to (3) above and depending on the circumstances in your company and the particular job description, would be to reject work performed incorrectly; e.g. sending the matter back to the person, with a note to please resubmit after corrections were made to bring the item into compliance with company policy. It that does not apply to your situation, I would proceed with steps outlined in (3) above.

In all instances, put yourself in the employee’s shoes and act in a manner that you would want to be treated if the circumstances were reversed.

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