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3 Signs That Managers, Not Employees, Are the Problem With Performance Management When employees leave, morale drops and performance stagnates, you definitely have an "uh-oh" situation on your hands.

By Andre Lavoie Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


When employees are under-performing, it's easy to attach to them the blame for the problem. However, performance management is more complicated than that.

Related: What Bad Managers, Good Managers and Great Managers Do

What happens, for instance, if the problem with employee performance has more to do with management than the employee?

While this scenario can create an awkward and difficult situation, there are other reasons why it's crucial to know if your managers are actually hurting your employees' performance. Two of them: Not only will overall productivity be hurt, but you could also lose quality employees.

Here are some signs for leadership to look out for to determine whether managers are actually causing performance-management problems:

Employees start to leave.

The relationship between employees and managers has a direct impact on retention. In fact, Gallup's State of the American Manager report in 2015 found that 50 percent of the professionals who responded said they'd quit a job to "get away from their boss" at some point in their career.

If employers have a smooth performance-management process, turnover shouldn't happen at rates as high as that. But if those employers see top talent start to jump ship, they'll know it's clearly time for a change.

Management may be pushing "A" players to leave for a number of reasons. Perhaps managers are overworking staff or making promises they don't keep. Employees might also feel stuck because managers aren't helping them to learn and grow, or they may feel unnoticed because they are never recognized.

To identify what managers can improve on, ask employees for feedback on their direct supervisors and upper management. Conduct anonymous surveys regularly, so employees can be honest without fearing repercussions.

Related: 5 Signs It's Time to Fire a Company Manager

Also, encourage managers to host open discussions with their teams at the end of the week. Employees can reflect on what they need management's help with. Managers can then use this direct feedback to become better leaders.

Morale starts to drop.

Employees want to work for managers they trust and respect, which is why relationship-building is vital to the company's performance-management process. Otherwise, employees may feel left in the dark and disconnected from leadership.

This manager-employee relationship has a direct impact on morale. Some of the biggest issues managers face come from strained relationships.

As an Officevibe poll found, 31 percent of employees participating said they wished their manager communicated more frequently with them, and 63 percent felt that they didn't get enough praise. The takeaway is simple: Employees want more open communication and transparency, and they deserve more recognition.

Otherwise, morale will likely drop, and productivity stall. So, embrace transparency at your organization by hosting weekly huddles, where employees share their accomplishments. They should announce what they succeeded at, and colleagues should celebrate them and thank them publicly.

Tailor recognition programs to your workplace culture. For example, if employees thrive in friendly competitions, start a tiered rewards program, where employees can earn prizes as they hit specific goals.

Performances stagnate.

Great managers inspire and motivate their staff to be their best self every day. When this happens, employees respond well to the feedback, and performance continues to improve.

On the other hand, when performance stops improving and employees disengage, it's time for employers to assess all of the factors contributing to the workflow. If managers are too hands off and distance themselves from the front lines, employees may feel disconnected from their responsibilities, and unnoticed.

Managers often overlook the value of one of the most important aspects of the performance-management process: monitoring employee performance and developing talent. If this is happening, teach your managers how to gather performance metrics and share this data with each employee.

Performance data is valuable because it gives managers and employees a visual of what "success" looks like. Conduct ongoing performance evaluations that involve this data, and incorporate goal-tracking. That way, talented individuals can see their personal progress and strive for an objective that is realistic and clear.

The performance evaluations delivering this data should be ongoing; so, advise managers as to what specific anniversaries they can schedule them around. It's important to check in with these managers regularly, so start with monthly reviews.

Hopefully, then, talent will become more engaged because these individuals will see their day-to-day performance start to improve. This will motivate them to go the extra mile.

Related: Here Are 4 Problems That Occur With Poor Management Skills

Plus, these one-on-one meetings will build a strong rapport between management and their team. When companies develop a deep respect and trust internallly, between their lower and higher levels, the performance-management process becomes easier to follow -- and employees thrive.

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the talent-management solution that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.


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