The Three Biggest Barriers to Top Performance

September 14, 2018

There can be many reasons for mediocre performance in the workplace.
Some unfortunately is due to a lack of desire to perform at a top level, but
more often there can be other obstacles or challenges preventing an
employee from performing successfully. The cost of a disengaged, poorly
performing employee varies based on the role and on the organization
itself, but poor performance costs US companies as much as $450–$550
billion annually. Before your organization can address poor performance,
it’s necessary to explore the possibility that one of these three challenges is
impacting an individual’s performance. Moreover, if one or more of these
challenges in an issue in your workplace, chances are good that many
other employees are also affected.

Gap in Skills or Knowledge

It is not realistic and is in many cases impossible to expect employees to
perform well if they lack the training or knowledge to do so. According to
Forbes, the biggest contributing factor to poor performance is inadequate
training. When faced with tasks and responsibilities for which they have not
been appropriately trained, workers are much more likely to make mistakes
and as work volume and pressure increase, those mistakes can multiply
and become very costly to the organization. Mistakes due to insufficient
training also have a negative effect on employee morale. Frustration
mounts and employees can become resentful if they feel they are not being
adequately supported by the organization. This leads to further
disengagement and may cause an employee to hide or cover-up mistakes,
issues which can become very costly to the bottom line.

To support employees properly and avoid the negative impact of workers
who lack the skills or knowledge to perform, it’s essential to have a training
strategy for all employees. A solid training strategy should exist for new
hires and for employees at all level. Particular focus on training should
apply as employees transition to new roles and responsibilities. A 2018
Workplace Distraction Report stated that 70% of employees believe that
training would help improve their engagement and performance. Ensuring
employees are well trained will not only improve performance and
profitability in the short term, it will also have long-term benefits through the retention and development of top performers.

Workplace Environment Issues

Company culture can have a huge impact on employee performance. The
employee experience is heavily impacted by environmental factors such as
incompetent management, absence of employee appreciation, and lack of
investment in the resources necessary for employees to achieve top performance. Nearly 50% of employees report feeling unappreciated at
work. Feeling appreciated could be the result of poor management. A Dale
Carnegie study found that 80% of those dissatisfied with their managers
were likely to be disengaged from the employer as a whole. Managers
need need to not only ensure that employees feel respected in the
workplace, they also must convey to employees the value of their
contribution to the organization.

Managers should make an effort to be approachable and it is ultimately the
manager who should be aware of needed tools and resources. Good
managers will advocate for their employees in this area to the extent
possible within the limitations of their budget, etc.

Problems with Employee Motivation

Actively disengaged employees are those who really don’t care about their
contributions or the value of their role, and worse, they often can declare
their attitudes quite publicly. These individuals are sometimes referred to as
on-board or internal terrorists who broadcast their disregard for their job
and the organization as a whole, going on to undermine the productivity of
their co-workers. Gallup estimates that a little over 17% of the workforce is
actively disengaged. That 17% will distract more productive workers with
their negativity. This extreme lack of engagement also has a detrimental
effect on colleagues whose ability to execute their own responsibilities
effectively may be dependent on the work product of the highly
disengaged.

Handling actively disengaged workers requires strong performance
management. These individuals need to be held accountable through
progressive discipline for not meeting expectations and for the behaviors
that are negatively impacting the workplace as a whole. This performance
plan must be driven either to a successful conclusion measured by a
turn-around in both productivity and attitude, or to a point where the
employment relationship can be terminated. Active performance
management is the only effective approach to eliminating the negative
impact of a toxic and unproductive employee.

Performance Management is Vital to Workforce Productivity

Poor performance and the detrimental impact to productivity is a
manageable and preventable workplace challenge. By understanding the
causes, leadership can be proactive in ensuring employees are properly
trained and equipped to perform and are working in an environment
conducive to high productivity. Asure Software’s Talent Management
solutions help managers create a positive and productive workplace
culture.