by Matt Alderton | November 29, 2012
According to staffing firm Robert Half International, managers spend an average of 17 percent of their time — nearly one day out of every five — overseeing poorly performing employees. Because poor performers hurt the company more than they help it, that's a big problem.

"Bad hires are costly, not just for the drain they place on the budget but also in terms of lost morale, productivity and time," says Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "Underperforming employees also require significant attention from employers, distracting managers from business-critical initiatives and causing other team members to pick up the slack."

Fortunately, managers can deal with underperforming employees more effectively — and, to the benefit of their schedule, more quickly — according to Robert Half Senior Executive Director Paul McDonald, who recently provided the following tips to contributor Minda Zetlin, president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors:

Meet face-to-face: "You're not going to take care of the problem till you meet with the person in person," McDonald tells Zetlin.

State the facts clearly: "Don't sugarcoat the problem," McDonald says, according to Zetlin. "Be direct, up front and honest — while trying to maintain a positive, noncriticizing tone."

Listen: "Is there a situation outside work affecting the person's performance?" McDonald asks. "Is the employee overworked and needs some responsibilities reassigned? Discuss your expectations, and offer whatever tools the employee may need to meet those expectations."

Recognize improvements: "History shows that many employers and supervisors often forget when there is improvement to give the proverbial pat on the back," McDonald tells Zetlin. "Positive morale is a key motivating factor and usually improves productivity and retention rates … So by recognizing improvement, you increase the chances that the improvement will continue."

For more tips, go to:

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?
Contact Successful Meetings Editor in Chief Vincent Alonzo with your "How To" ideas.