Solving Employee Performance Problems


So much has been said about the dif- ficulties today of finding “good help”. That employees today don’t have the work ethic of old. When dealing with performance problems consider the following.

First, does the employee really know what their job is? Sure, this seems like a stupid question. But wait until you uncover the answer! Employees generally have an idea of what their job entails. But do they know what is expected from them as producers or how specific details or issues should be dealt with?

If your company does not have a written employee manual or set of training guidelines, chances are each employee received a different message during their early days on the job. Years ago I worked with a flooring company who was trying to implement quality standards. The problem was they had no standard for good and bad work. The answer was as simple as collecting photographs over time of what good and bad work looked like. Now all new employees know what a bad seam looks like and what is great work for a counter-top detail.

Second, if the employee knows the job and what is expected, then the reason for poor performance is probably a recent event. The question for you, the manager, is the root cause of the problem occurring on the job or in the employee’s personal life? Obviously, the solution to the problem varies with this answer. If the poor performance has occurred previously, you must ask why did your last solution not change the performance behavior?

Third, does the employee want to do a good job? Most people usually do, but there are a few that don’t. Chances are, those employees actually want to do a good job somewhere, it’s just that their goals and values don’t align with those at your company. If that’s the case, cut them loose. If you decide to keep them, realize you will be spending quite a bit of time trying to bring them around.

Fourth, does the person know how they are doing? If they don’t, then you need to tell them their performance does not match your set of expectations. There is a strong chance they don’t know they are doing poor work. Ask them how they think they are doing? If they can’t give you specific details of what they are doing well or poorly, chances are they don’t know your expectations.

This is a key point. With some regularity, ask your staff to specifically tell you what they think they do well and where they could improve. Listen to the specifics and read between the lines. It is here the opportunity for employee growth truly lies.

Finally, ask yourself does the person have the skill, resources and training to do the job? Obviously if they don’t it is your job as a manager or owner to see they get them.

Jim Kress works at COCC where he helps small business owners solve management & marketing problems. He can be reached at 383-7712.

Think Global, Profit Local!

by TIM PARSON of Panagrafik Many local companies are taking the global route. You can too. The world is shrinking at a feverish pace. In the past it was too expensive for small business to search out other markets for their products and services. You’d have to send a sales force to sell your company and that is cost prohibitive for most of us. We’ve all heard that the business playing field is more level than ever before because of the internet. This is only true if you know how to play on that field. If you jump onto a soccer field and have no idea how to play soccer the better players’ll bump you out. It’s the same with promoting your business online. Many have tried to put up a website promoting their business but it takes much more than just putting up a website. You must market your product and/or service; you may need to have a multilingual site, depending on the market you are after. Websites are not the only method of promoting your business abroad.

If you can’t afford to have a business website created at this time, using the Internet in other ways may also be helpful. Joining online communities that share the same business interests you have is one possibility. People looking for the product and/or service you offer will find you listed within these Online communities and will be able to contact you easily. We asked Stewart Fritchman of Sunriver Coffee Company how he acquired business outside the area. He told us, “I’ve been involved in the coffee business for 12 years. In 1996 I opened my knowledge base to the general public for consulting purposes. I travel coast to coast on a fee basis to establish coffee houses, carts and drive-throughs. Recently I’ve entered negotiations to set-up a chain of coffee houses in the Netherlands.

All of this is possible from Central Oregon thanks to high speed internet, video conferencing and the Redmond Airport having direct flights to International hubs.” Bringing business into the local economy from abroad is smart business. If you build this infrastructure within your organization and have it running when the next economic slowdown occurs you will make it through the slow period that much easier. When you have business outside the local region you will have a part in advertising the community we all live in. In turn this will be attracting more visitors to our local area, wanting to see our beautiful Central Oregon home. As the cycle continues others will begin to reap the benefits of thinking global and profiting local.

Tim Parsons is a co-founder of PANAGRAFIK – A visual communications group. We want to hear from you. What do you want to see in our next column? Send us your questions or comments about business branding, corporate identity development, environmental graphics, architectural signage, interactive design, packaging, marketing and graphic styling of your business materials.

We can be reached by e-mail at or snail mail to P.O. Box 8206, Bend OR 97708-8206graphic styling of your business materials. We can be reached by e-mail at or snail mail to P.O. Box 8206, Bend OR 97708-8206


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