In our conversations with first-time managers, one of the most common challenges we hear about is helping someone on you're team who's underperforming.
Just to make it harder, it’s a subject that can be difficult to get good advice on. The topic covers such a wide range of situations - different personalities, different sectors, different working relationships - that we find much of the guidance out there is too general to be of much practical use.
That was until we found this blog post from Roy Rapoport, a Director in Corporate Engineering at Netflix. He lays out ‘The Five Conditions for Improvement’ which need to be in place for you to help someone work on an aspect of their performance.
We don’t put it lightly when we say we wish we’d had this when we were first promoted to being managers. It’s an invaluable checklist for working through these issues with your team members.
The five steps are:
We’ve seen many cases of underperformance where a manager has simply skipped to points 4 and 5, and given the individual some instructions to improve, without ever pausing to consider whether they believe there’s a problem in the first place, care about it, or think it’s anything to do with them. This is clearly a recipe for disaster and happens…. well, it happens all the time.
So next time you need to speak to someone about making an improvement, just spend a few minutes thinking about whether these conditions exist. And if you’re currently struggling with one of these situations, just check the list to see if you’ve missed a step.
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We’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask your managers and team members to identify the challenges they face, and help you pick the right solutions.