Fit, Fix or Fire (Part 1 of 3) Solving Performance Problems Faster

By Tom Davidson

If the employee is a bad fit, no amount of performance appraisal, training or coaching will turn their performance from poor to superior. Learn more about how to handle this situation, in this blog post:

Everyone wants to be the manager, but nobody wants the manager’s headaches – especially dealing with performance problems because:

• They are hard on working relationships because they require confrontation and unpleasant conversations
• They take up valuable time that often needs to be spent elsewhere
• They distract the manager from working with more productive and higher-potential employees

No matter what the performance problem consists of, the choices always boil down to three: fix, fit or fire. This blog series discusses each of the options so that you can sort out the best option or combination of actions to fit your situation.

1. Fit – Finding the best fit for the person’s talents and interpersonal skills
2. Fix – Adjusting the key behaviors that are causing performance problems
3. Fire – Letting the person go to another job or organization where they are a better match

Dealing with Bad Fit
Fit should always be your first concern, because without it, performance problems are virtually inevitable. People have natural strengths that may have been advantageous to them in a previous job or organization, but in their current role are not serving the their success in the best possible way.

A classic example is a detail-oriented person who is placed in a creative, ambiguous or big-picture role. As a detail-oriented person, the individual may not have the personality characteristics or interest in performing their new assignment.

Another recurring case is the manager who is good at startups because he is very demanding, task-oriented and authoritative, characteristics that often help get things going in a hurry. But the same manager in a different circumstance may need to take a more patient, servant-leader approach, otherwise alienating employees who need a more collaborative leader to succeed.

If the root cause of a performance problem is one of bad fit, your best bet is to find another role for them in the organization that gets the most from their talents or help them exit the organization to find a better job for them – and you!

To prevent this problem from happening in the first place, you should use the best available hiring techniques, including some or all of the following:

• Behavioral interviewing
• Work samples
• Valid psychometric testing
• Job shadowing or internships

To resolve the problem once it occurs, you should:

• Compare the precise needs of the job to the current behaviors, looking for long-term patterns that don’t match the actual requirements of the job
• Conduct 360-degree interviews with the individual’s staff and peers to assess what the person does consistently well and poorly
• Hire an executive coach to uncover the patterns from performance data and in-depth interviews with the associate and others

If the employee is a bad fit, no amount of performance appraisal, training or coaching will turn their performance from poor to superior. The best you can probably hope for is that the person eventually starts to meet expectations, which is hardly ever an acceptable result for the long-term, either for the individual or the organization.

Have you ever found yourself in a role that was a bad fit? How did you know? What happened and what did you do about it?

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