What to Do When Your Employees Aren't Hitting Their Goals

You’ve invested in a great hire and perhaps they’ve been with you for a few years. You appreciate the loyalty and their enthusiasm for their role and they’ve expressed that they want to grow into a new role or take on new responsibilities. Why not? You love go-getters. But then, the truth reveals itself. No matter how much guidance, resources, or one-on-one reviews you provide, they somehow just aren’t very good at the job.

It’s not a mean thing, but perhaps a realization that this role is simply not where they’re meant to be.

So, what do you do?

Whether it’s a role they’ve had for a while or one that they’ve newly transitioned into, this 5-step program will help get them (and you) where they need to go.

1. Establish two ground rules: they should be in a role that plays to their strengths and there needs to be open communication if it’s not a good fit

This needs to be done before the new role is acquired, but it helps both people feel open to constructive criticism and honesty. Make it clear that if something doesn’t feel right, honest communication is encouraged from both sides.

I remember being at a startup where I was hired in as a writing editor, then molded into video editor, and then even a partnerships lead. There were roles in between this one that didn’t work out, but it was okay. No hard feelings, we knew time was valuable and when it didn’t work, it didn’t work.

2. Make sure you’ve given them the opportunity to succeed

Oftentimes, people are thrown into new roles and they fail because they’ve been set up that way. Maybe they haven’t been connected with the right contacts or properly trained on new software. Make sure that they are given resources to learn, mentors to tap into, and your time if they have questions. If these three things still haven’t paved the way for success, then it’s time for a real chat.

3. Discuss goals with your employee

What do they ultimately want from their job? How do they see themselves growing within the next few months or years? Do they see themselves still with the company or in a completely different place? Although questions like the last one may be hard to ask and hear, knowing these answers can help you put them in the right role so you and your company can thrive.

4.  Be quick but slow with your decision

Sometimes, people need a chance to grow into their new role. Other times, it immediately doesn’t fit. For the former, you’ll know this right away. For the latter, it’ll set in when the same mistakes keep being made. You’ll have to discover what your threshold is for mistakes but remember, you have to be open and honest when mistakes are made.

5. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work

At the end of the day, you want your employee to succeed. That is the ultimate goal. Therefore, if they aren’t thriving in their role, it’s important to act fast to create a space where they can thrive. Whether it be a different role within the company, or unfortunately, not within the company at all, aim to be a strong resource to get them where they need to go. That is the most impactful thing you can do as a leader.

Remember, people perform best when they are in a position that plays to their strengths and just because one role doesn’t work out, doesn’t mean they are unable to do anything at all.

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Stella Densmore