When it comes to fixing weaknesses in others, executives and managers find that it is a lot tougher than it might sound.
However, even negative end results do not stop business leaders from
trying various approaches to get their subordinates to improve in areas
including poor time management, late projects and inability to perform
The top course of action in dealing with weaknesses in others is to
discuss the weakness, based on a nationwide survey by NFI Research. The
next leading courses of action are to provide additional training,
support, regular meetings and then put the individual on notice, based
on the survey of senior executives and managers.
“Key is providing relevant direct feedback and then allowing
the employee to make behavior change within a reasonable period of
time,” said one survey respondent. “Sometimes additional training is
needed, but often it is not. What’s needed is a change in behavior,
which comes from outlining very clear expectations and consequences.”
“It is better to address issues head on and try to correct them
than it is to bury or ignore them,” said another respondent.
“Sometimes, however, it is not possible to fix. You can reach a
person’s limits, which means you either lower the mark or, in the
extreme, replace the person if the job has changed and now requires
Many executives and managers frequently reach the limits of
others, since only 20 percent of senior executives and four percent of
managers say that they are extremely successful at correcting
weaknesses in others to meet the manager’s expectations or
“We try to be clear about expectations and ensure the employee
has the tools to do the job,” said one respondent. “If it becomes
apparent their skill level is lacking, we’ll explore training them,
which may include probation. After a period of time if they cannot meet
the demands of the position, we let them go. If you don’t, other
employees quickly accept that lack of accountability, resent you’re not
dealing with it and make it a broader negative issue.”
There are times that the person and the task or job are no longer a
fit, but the challenge is to identify it sooner rather than later, for
the benefit of both parties.
“We often do a disservice to those who are
under performing,” said another survey respondent. “It is far better to
address the weaknesses directly, determine whether remediation is
possible, and if not, allow the employee and the organization to move
forward in separate directions. Often an employee not successful in one
organization can be very successful in another. As managers, we owe it
to them to pursue other opportunities.”
Said another: “The first step always has to be to improve
performance, second is to re-assign where better chance of performance
is acceptable, finally, they have to go.”
Businesses have varying ways of dealing with the issue of
weaknesses in employees, many leading to termination if the situation
is not ultimately resolved.
“I put habitual underachievers on a formal performance
improvement plan with very specific, time-measurable, and quality
measurable milestones and deliverables,” said one manager. “I give them
the benefit of coaching and mentoring, and frequent dialog sessions to
understand how they are doing. If they fail in this environment for two
successive six-month intervals, I will terminate them.”
At times, that is the best course of action, since the person and the job or task will never be a fit for each other.
”Sometimes it’s a round peg in a square hole problem, and good
employees can be salvaged if placed into a situation where they can
improve,” said a respondent.
The better business leaders take a look around the organization
to see if there is, in fact, a better fit for the person where both he
or she and the company can benefit.