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David Levy
Principal - Consult Levy
The Corporate Digest
November 2019
Dear David,

Do we really understand the source of poor employee performance?
Hidden Reasons for Poor Performance
Is it easier to eliminate the employee rather than to eliminate the reasons behind the performance deficit?

Many supervisors incorrectly blame the poor performance on a lack of motivation or on a poor hire.

Ferdinand Fournies in his book on the subject suggests that the majority of performance issues lie in poor management, not poor employees.

The next time you are faced with such an issue, why don’t you use this checklist to identify the real cause of the problem?

They don’t know what to do

Fournies questions whether you are paying your employees to guess what it is they are supposed to do, as opposed to making sure that they know what you expect.

Make sure that they have accurate job descriptions and the correct date targets for each goal.

They don’t know how to do it

People are often put into a position, or promoted to a new position, without being adequately taught how to do each job.

Each employee should be adequately trained and provided with materials reinforcing the training. They should also be tested, as appropriate, for the correct level of knowledge.

They don’t know why they should do it

People are much more likely to fully embrace the position and functions if they understand the role that they play in the organization.

The classic case that is quoted is of the janitor at NASA who was asked what his job was, and he replied, “To help put a man on the moon”. That’s understanding your role in an organization!

They think that their way is better

Some people think they are hired to reinvent their jobs.

A principle I always espouse with new people is that they should not assume that everything is done in the most efficient way possible and that we would want their opinion and thoughts on any changes. However, a pre-requisite is that they first learn how the function is taking place now, before they make recommendations for improvement.

They think that something else is more important

Some employees may have different priorities to you.  

Therefore, you should initially help everyone prioritize their assignments and then provide a list of priority categories so that they can rank later assignments themselves.

They think they are doing it

Many employees assume that if no one says anything to them, it means that they are doing a good job.  

Hence, the importance of regular feedback, including the recording and measurement of achievements so that evaluation is based on performance, not personality.

They are rewarded for not doing it

Sometimes poor performers are given easier assignments and therefore believe that they are doing the job. 

Rather hold people accountable to work to the required standard and monitor the difficult tasks until the performance is at the expected level.

Communicate, measure and feedback – three simple words that make an enormous difference.
David Levy works with companies utilizing his business improvement strategies to maximize their profitability and improve their effectiveness. He works with owners and helps businesses, and their people, grow. 

He can be reached at 858-453-3778.

Contact Information
David Levy
8230 Caminito Sonoma, Suite 102
La Jolla, CA 92037 USA
Phone: 858-453-3778            Fax: 763-322-2505
E-mail:     Website:
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