Submitted by jsigned on
In a previous thread I posted I was getting a new group added to my team http://www.manager-tools.com/forums-8650 and that the new guys were infamous in the organization. Yesterday I got the official turn over and the behind the curtain look at them. It seems one of them is the real problem and the other is being tainted by association.
The individual in question has several formal ADA accommodations; a later start time because of sleep apnea, reduced autonomy and specific job instructions because of ADHD, and several allowed tardies because of hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness).
We have an employee union and they are involved as well. He has been tardy far more times than allowed for in his accommodation and his file has written complaints from his customers. A previous warning was given without enough notice to allow the representative to be present and that created a warning coming back from them. And, he is on probation with the next step being termination.
During our first meeting with these two my boss (an non-manager tool user) laid down the law to both of them. The typical stuff, be on time, dress appropriately, customer service is primary, work hard, etc, etc. They were both very excited and happy about the change. My group typically gets good reviews and is well liked by the organization, and I have a strong desire to keep it that way.
My inclination is to not wipe the slate clean and keep the pressure on this employee. The problems have been documented for the last two years and have been going on for longer than that. Suggestions? Am I wrong in not cleaning the slate?
Keep documenting etc..
Yes you're right! Keep documenting and the process going. It's your duty to the company. The company may be trying a new supervisor to see if the employees start Performing. That's sounds like a challenge with the medical issues of the employee mixed with non-performance. I see two outcomes if your using your MT (O3s, feedback, coaching etc. while documenting): #1. You get the employees improving to the company's and your standards and boom problem solved or #2. You continue the process and the employees move on quickly.
A fresh start should begin with addressing the past issues, not forgetting them, as your instincts are telling you.
good luck let us know how it works out.
None of it matters if they change approach
You could take the approach with the employee that you make it very clear where the company sees him based on his history however, you are prepared to take a "none of that matters to me if you do what is expected" attitude. Tell him he has the opportunity of a 'fresh start' with you if AND ONLY IF he is prepared to change such that his performance is acceptable.
Lay out what you and the company are expecting from him and then keep meticulous track of his performance. Give him positive and negative feedback as appropriate and document everything. Keep in close touch with HR especially if things are not improving.
There's a cast for
There's a cast for that....
Inheriting a Poor Performer:
I understand the 'keep the pressure on' point, but really... I've been on the employee side of this, and I really recommend treating them as themselves and not as their history. It might be something to do with their former boss, or a crisis in their life that they haven't felt comfortable discussing with their former boss, or something. Find out for *yourself* - not just via the history.
Then again, he might just be a poor performer. If you assume from the start that he really is a poor performer, then, guess what? He'll be a poor performer. Look for good things and give positive feedback, or praise.
Once you've seen for yourself how he respond to MT-style management, and whether or not he's actually got any positive points, THEN continue the warning-and-etc process.
Do the regular O3s. Get to know him. Get to know why he is having problems. Verify that the accommodations really are appropriate and reasonable FOR HIM. (I have no idea why an accommodation for ADHD would include 'reduced autonomy and specific job instructions', per se. Is there no better accommodation to be made than that? How about the physical accommodations? For instance, is he in a corner cube where he gets less distractions, or is he in one of those godawful half-height cubes where every little twitch from someone else can grab his attention?)
And if things don't get better with MT-style management, then ok: he's a poor performer and needs to be dealt with as such.
I'd say Wipe it Clean
It's a tough problem, and interesting to see the various points of view. I'd like to add my own, which is that you might be best served by a Wipe it Clean approach. I've had experience of relying on previous manager's notes, complaints, poor reports and I haven't found it easy to back any of them up. I also feel it's potentially unfair to the individual.
I would suggest you take a completely fresh start and apply the MT principles, avoid getting into discussion's about previous incidents and build your own case for promoting, continuing or terminating, based solely on your work with the individuals. And be very aware that this will take a lot of time - maybe 9-12 months even in a clearcut case.
Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best, it's a tough one but also one where your approach could make a major difference, so it's exciting as well.
Inheriting a poor performer
The Inheriting a Poor Performer is a great cast and I heartily recommend it.
The only concern I have in adopting a full fresh start in this instance is the comment that was made by the original poster " he is on probation with the next step being termination". You have a responsibility to the organisation, and your organisation may not want you to give him a full fresh start. You may well be his 'last chance' as someone else said. Your organisation may want him to continue to be on probation and on route out if things don't improve. If so, work with them.
Thus, work very closely with HR on what the company is expecting from you. Tell HR that if he improves and meets your expectations you will be recommending he comes off probation. Tell him the same. Document everything. Good or bad.