I have written previously that I believe one of the roles of a leader is not to accept mediocrity and to strive for exceptional performance from your employees. Due to some recent experiences I thought it was worth repeating. One of the easiest ways to do this is to continually monitor performance and have on-going discussions with your employees rather than a once or twice a year performance review. Although an in-depth review is helpful, I believe real performance coaching and development occurs through much more frequent interaction.
I recently worked with a leader who had a situation most HR professionals see too often. A leader wanting to terminate an employee quickly and getting HR involved. When the manager is asked to provide more information, further discussion reveals that the leader knew the employee was performing adequately at best, but kept procrastinating at dealing with the issue. Additionally, there has been minimal discussion with the employee regarding their performance. The leader should have been either helping the employee in some way to excel or make an appropriate change.
It is natural to avoid dealing with some of these issues. However the only way your team is really going to contribute to your organization is to have the high level performances throughout your team. The easiest way to do this is to communicate appropriate performance and role expectations and to monitor them often and take appropriate action as needed.
Procrastinating in addressing performance issues inevitably leads to negative outcomes beyond the employee with subpar performance. Usually, the poor performance also affects the larger team. The best solution to managing performance is on-going discussion of expectations and performance between leaders and their employees. HR is best used to support those efforts.