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The Logical Approach to Non-Performance

Not so long ago, this blog featured a post entitled, 10 Reasons for Non-Performance, looking at why employees sometimes don’t do something and what a good manager or supervisor can do about that. To continue the theme… this post looks at the manager’s decision-making process when faced with an under-performing employee – how exactly do you decide what the best course of action is?

Choose your approach

Naturally, there are many ways to analyse a situation in which an employee isn’t doing a part of their job: from the brutalist “Do it or you’re fired!” approach, to the warm’n’fuzzy “Let’s talk about it” chat with tea & biscuits (and yes, I’m exaggerating both those extremes for effect!) This post looks at a very logical/rational approach derived from the research of Roger Mager and Peter Pipe (who, among other things, authored the 1997 book ‘Analyzing Performance Problems’). If logic appeals to you, try following this series of questions – just don’t forget before acting, check the logical answer against the specific circumstances: “Does it fit the situation and the individual?”

Performance Analysis with Mager & Pipe

  1. What isn’t happening?
  2. Is the task relevant or necessary? IF ‘YES’ GO TO #3; IF ‘NO’ THEN Ignore it
  3. Do they have the required skill or knowledge? IF ‘YES’ GO TO #5; IF ‘NO’ GO TO #4
  4. Have their duties or job changed? IF ‘YES’ THEN Arrange training in new skills +/or knowledge; IF ‘NO’ THEN Arrange opportunity to practice with feedback and coaching
  5. Does using this skill or knowledge ‘punish’ the individual? IF ‘YES’ THEN Remove ‘punishment’; IF ‘NO’ GO TO #6
  6. Is avoiding the task rewarding in some way? IF ‘YES’ THEN Provide an incentive to do it; IF ‘NO’ GO TO #7
  7. Does using this skill of knowledge matter to the individual? IF ‘YES’ GO TO #8; IF ‘NO’ THEN Provide support and reasons for using it
  8. Are there any obstacles to carrying out the task? IF ‘YES’ THEN Acknowledge this and remove the obstacles if possible, if not possible then seek a compromise; IF ‘NO’ GO TO #9
  9. If all else fails, communicate the potential consequences of not performing (in line with your usual performance management policy and procedures).

As stated above, this is a very logical/rational approach to the issue and is therefore completely impersonal. Once the model has led you to a conclusion, a good manager will test that conclusion before acting by considering its impact on the ‘real world’. In other words, how will the conclusion (and suggested action) play out in the specific circumstances, with the specific people and business involved.

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