How to Help an Employee Who’s Treading Water

How to Help an Employee Who’s Treading Water

It’s a big commitment and a major investment to find, recruit, and train employees. Naturally, then, you want those employees to stick with you for the long haul. But what happens when one of your employees simply isn’t performing as you had hoped? What can you do for the employee who’s just treading water—not rising to meet his or her full potential?

We’ll start with what should be your last resort, and that’s termination. Yes, it’s unpleasant to fire someone, and it’s frustrating to see that hiring/training investment blow up in your face. But there may come a point where you simply have to cut the employee loose, rather than have a suboptimal performer drag the entire team down.

Again, that’s a last resort. Before you reach that point, we recommend doing what you can to coach your employee and resolve some of those performance issues. The question is how.

Three Ways to Help an Underachieving Employee

There are a few options you might consider.

  1. Mentorship can go a long way. This doesn’t have to be a complicated, formalized program, although it certainly can be. It may be as simple as pairing an underachieving employee with one of your top performers. Have them tackle projects together once or twice weekly. Incentivize the mentor in some way, encouraging him or her to really be mindful about coaching your struggling employee.
  2. Another option is to change the employee’s position—though this may only be possible in larger home service companies. If you have a struggling sales rep, though, consider if you can move him or her into a position answering phones or providing estimates. Your employee may be struggling simply because you’ve put them in a job that’s not quite aligned with their real strengths.
  3. No matter what else you do, it’s always important to set the right goals. Talk one-on-one with your struggling employee and be very clear in laying out the goals you expect him or her to meet. We recommend the SMART goal-setting approach, which means setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive. Again, it’s vital that you and the employee be on the same page and have a clear sense of expectations.

You may still find that the employee is struggling—and you may reach that termination point. But remember: Each employee is an investment, and it’s worth the effort to protect that investment as best you can.

Learn more about building a strong, healthy home service team; reach out to our consultants at Contractor in Charge today.