To survive in today’s competitive and dynamic world, organizations must be performance driven. The Wall Street Journal reported that even one underperformer in a high performing team could drag down the overall team productivity by almost 40%. Poor employee performance clearly is a stumbling block that enterprises just cannot afford. We are all fond of saying that employees are the organization’s greatest assets. So, when those assets underperform, who is at fault? Does the responsibility of performance lie with the employee alone or is the management responsible too?
While it’s reasonable to expect employees to be self-motivated, I believe that the leadership team must shoulder a majority of the blame for employee underperformance. Author of Solving Employee Performance Problems, Anne Bruce says, “If an organization is plagued with poor performing employees, leadership needs to take a look in the mirror…The most high-performing, highly productive organizations in the world have leadership that sets the example, walks the talk and grows and nurtures talent.”
Talent management is incredibly important in every organization. Employees with higher engagement rates are 21% more productive according to Gallup. Gallup also says that engaged employees are 27% more likely to deliver excellent performance. Perhaps, it’s not fair to say that organizations are taking no initiative to increase employee engagement. However, quite a few of these initiatives are superficial in nature. They are transparently symbolic and convince no one that they hold any real value. What employees of today want is to see that an organization is interested in investing in their growth story. Employees need an enabling environment that helps them do their jobs better. They need growth opportunities. Learning opportunities. They crave the chance to give their best and make an impact. Otherwise, how can they stay engaged at their jobs? Without this, how can they stay relevant in their jobs?
Many factors contribute to underperformance. Unreasonable workloads and expectations, unclear communication, improper information…the list can go on. And then there’s the bane of micromanaging. I firmly believe that good leaders empower their employees. It is the bad ones who feel the need to micromanage. If you find yourself micromanaging all the time, it should come as a warning. Why do you need to micromanage all the time? Where are your employees lacking?
Underperformance also stems from the employee not being able to adapt at the speed of change. The market is dynamic, products are evolving, new products and technologies are making a transformational impact every day. Innovation is now commonplace. However, what we don’t perhaps factor in is that all of this is possible only when the employee is in tune with all the developments around him. In this light, continuously addressing the learning and development needs of each individual become critical to develop high-performing individuals and teams.
The end of the year annual performance review will be useless and a huge waste of time if this is the only time of the year when you are having a performance discussion. In fact, many organizations are doing away with the annual review format and making way for much more regular and ongoing performance conversations and discussions. The learning needs of an individual are exposed during the course of these discussions and, once uncovered, should be addressed on a proactive basis. Research shows that focusing feedback on employee weakness can cause performance to decline by 27%. Instead, why not take this feedback and turn it around to make it into a learning opportunity? When you give your employees opportunities to improve by addressing their development needs then you automatically drive the impression that you are invested in their growth story. It might seem like a mammoth task to conduct frequent learning and training programs. It might seem that too many training initiatives would result in employee downtime and consequently lower productivity, and high costs. But frankly, strategically addressing the learning needs of the employees, no matter how big or small, is the only way forward to have a high performing team.
These are common concerns. It’s also true that classroom training is also not a viable option in many cases. Classroom training for a large number of people, who have diverse needs can be complicated. Employee downtime is unacceptable these days. Also, long training programs can be boring. And anything boring will lead to low engagement and low retention. We also need to take into consideration the needs of the mobile workforce or those employees who are in geographically dispersed locations. How do we address them? And in the age of the mobile and personalization how can we enable the same in our training initiatives? The answer, as many of us have already figured out, lies in eLearning.
With a strategic and comprehensive eLearning program, L&D teams can unlock the real potential of their employees. These training programs can be device-agnostic, can be highly personalized, can offer the social connect to boost collaboration, can deliver content in easily consumable bite-size chunks, and they can give the employee the flexibility to learn anytime and anywhere. The outcomes can also be measured easily and on a proactive basis and any adjustments or course correction can be done almost real-time.
Let me end with this. Among the most important roles of company leadership is to nurture talent. While razzle-dazzle like snooker tables and fancy cafeterias etc. provide some cosmetic relief they don’t provide for sustainable employee engagement. This means that underperformance can be reversed only when organizations systematically leverage education as a tool for performance correction. And with the advent of the mLearning age along with the maturing of eLearning technologies, ensuring this is no longer a problem.
Contact us to better understand how we at eNyota Learning can help your employees perform better.