Underperformance is not an employee problem, it’s a leadership problem!

So much conversation around remote workers underperforming, or at least some corporate leadership believes remote workers are underperforming. They might be right. They might be wrong. The reality is this has little to do with remote employees!

What would you do, as a corporate leader, if your on-premise employees were underperforming? Would you send them to work at home?

Sounds stupid to say that out loud, doesn’t it?

Underperformance by any worker, regardless of where they are, is a function of the leader responsible, not doing something about it. You could fire a worker who is underperforming. You could work with that employee and give them extra training and tools. You might give them a mentor. You might adjust their goals and ask them to do extra work to make up for underperformance. You can do so many things that can actually impact performance.

Moving their location of work might actually have an impact on their performance. This is true. But as a primary step, it’s a silly strategy.

Here’s an idea!

Instead of telling remote employees they must return to work because you “believe” they are underperforming, what if we told our leaders it’s your job to ensure the performance of your team? If your team doesn’t meet the agreed-upon goals, we will fire you.

To help you, as a leader, get the best performance out of your team, we are going to give you leadership training and make sure you and your team have the tools they need to perform. If a remote employee isn’t performing to the standards that were set, we will deal with that individual underperforming employee.

I think you’ll find some people will perform up to the level you know equals good performance. You will also find you made some hires of people who are incapable of meeting the performance you need for the resources you are spending on them. You will also find that some remote employees, while they really like being remote, don’t have the personality capable of being effective in a remote environment. You will also find some employees who actually perform better when working remotely.

Here’s the thing!

Great employee performance is very individual in how it is obtained. Great leaders will recognize this and find the best recipe for each individual to perform their best. I have three sons. My first son, I could yell it and push, and he would try harder just to show me up. My second son would literally shut down if I tried to parent him the same way I did my oldest. My third, he just managed me.

Working remotely is great for those people who can perform well working remotely. Some can. Some can’t. Most will fall into the middle and probably perform similarly regardless of where they are sitting.

The problem we have right now is we no longer manage performance. We have a bunch of snowflake bosses who believe if they manage performance, people will quit. Yes, some will. Thankfully! Otherwise, you’ll have to fire them. But, most will actually perform well because most people you hire actually want to be successful.

You see, performance, when done correctly, is about both the company and the employee finding success. I find most employees want to be successful, and if you design your goals correctly, that will make the company successful. I have no desire to work with people who don’t want personal success, regardless of where they work.

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