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No bad apples: The relationships behind poor employee performance


Constructive criticism shouldn't kill employee enthusiasm.

Constructive criticism shouldn’t kill employee enthusiasm.

Customer care center managers should create an atmosphere of open communication so supervisors can consistently deliver support, advice and praise. If an agent begins performing poorly it may indicate a breakdown in the relationship between managers and employees.

Managers should look at periods of poor performance as opportunities to gain insight into obstacles that may hinder employee satisfaction and effective company culture.

Acknowledge poor performance
Ignoring problem rarely leads to solutions. In a best case scenario, a problem may be a onetime event but workers could see a lack of managerial engagement as a sign they are on their own. The worst outcome would be for poor performance to evolve into a habit that affects the entire care center culture.

A guide published by the United Nations Department of Management suggested employees want managers to step in when a co-worker performs poorly. Staff often has to make up for other people’s mistakes and want supervisors to deliver quick solutions.

When higher-ups get involved in daily activities, it demonstrates how much employees matter to a company. But managers can’t wait around for positive interactions, they must show they are there through thick and thin, to deliver praise and constructive criticism.

Do they have a reason?
Acknowledgment of problems is a two-way street. Listening to employees is the best way to determine the origins of poor performance, and managers might just learn something about overall business procedures.

“Acknowledgment of problems is a two-way street.”

Inc. contributor Lolly Daskal said employees companies view as lazy might be their smartest and most efficient workers. Customer care agents may ignore procedures when they find a better way to satisfy customers. Going off script is risky, and offices need an integrated approach to service, but managers should always listen to new ideas that can yield positive results.

When an employee is not performing his or her duties, a manager must find out why. The problem could be easily solvable or worker opinions could lead to better business practices. If enough employees face the same obstacle, a company may need to re-evaluate back office solutions to prevent needless hassles from leading to poor performance.

Offer solutions, not corrections
The Harvard Business Review suggested problems in performance often lead to vicious cycles of employee doubt. When a manager brings a criticism to a worker’s attention, a once previously effective relationship could dissolve as managers distance themselves from mistakes and employees stress over negative perceptions.

Managers have to communicate they are on the employee’s side and they want him or her to succeed. Poor performance should be treated as in issue they can solve together. Mutual dialogues should form goals for improvement. The manager should check in with the employee to monitor progress.

If the worst happens and there is no improvement, creating a measurable goal allows a manager to see if optimal performance is unlikely. Hard data helps supervisors make tough decisions. When a worker has to be let go, a data trail can justify a decision and provide information for future training so it won’t happen in the future.


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