Secrets of Success in Business – How to Deal With Employees Who Can’t Work to Deadlines

If you’re struggling to honour customer commitments or have discontented employees as a result of some people not being able to work to the deadlines set, then start with the actual work itself and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the deadline or time-frame achievable and realistic?
  • How do you know? Has this person done the work before to the same deadline when asked?

If it is realistic then this is likely to be a motivation issue. If not, then it is a training or support issue that needs addressing.

You may also need to consider the amount of work the employee has and whether she/he is clear on key responsibilities and tasks, so that she/he is able to prioritise work effectively, as it may just be a case of work overload!

If however, you know this is not the case, you are certain the employee knows how to do the task(s), is capable of and can do them, but isn’t, then this would be a motivation issue.

I suggest that you first have a chat with this employee to try to find out what the issue is from their point of view. This is important as there may be factors that you are unaware of that may be outside their control but which are affecting performance.

It may be possible for you to remedy this without further action or, it may not.

There may also be other issues, fears or concerns from the employees point of view you may be able to alleviate or dispel altogether.

Alternatively, there may be no external circumstances affecting performance and no reason that the employee can give for poor performance, in which case you need to deal with this as an issue of poor performance.

Positive motivation techniques should be used as appropriate and may include

  • giving praise and encouragement
  • highlighting the reward for good performance
  • taking time to review

Alternatively, negative techniques may also be used in a positive way. For example the employee needs to be aware of the consequences of underperformance. (I’m assuming here that standards have been set and understood, and direction and timescales given – if not this is a training issue!)

Consequences such as:

  • the effect on their pay
  • the effect on the performance of the rest of their team or work colleagues
  • the effect on internal or external customers

These in turn may affect the company’s profitability.

The employee also needs to know that continued poor performance will result in disciplinary action being taken. If this route is necessary you need to ensure you have covered the basics above in relation to the work itself, their workload, their confidence, and their competence.

I suggest you also record the outcomes of meetings to discuss performance. This is to ensure that all parties are being seen to be “fair” and so that you have evidence in the event of an employee appeal or grievance.