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Employee Improvement Plan

Updated on May 28, 2014

The Disengaged Employee

Every manager has come across the below average employee who does not appear to contribute much to the business yet they have being around for many years. These workers will report to work in the morning and leave in the evening without having contributed much.

Their input will not be felt by the company they work for yet no one seems to notice or care about the issue. These ghosts will hover around the workplace for years without anybody taking notice yet they are consuming a significant portion of the company's resources.

Learning how to improve employee engagement is an important skill that employers need to learn in order to get the desired results. Employee performance reviews have traditionally being used as a way of improving employee engagement but this approach has not yielded the expected improvement in morale or productivity.

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Qualities of an Average Worker

  • Reports late
  • Leaves early
  • Sick off
  • Complains Incessantly
  • Argues a lot
  • Rude
  • Lacks ideas
  • Everything is impossible
  • Actively disengaged

Improving Employee Engagement and Morale

How did this happen?

Business literature says that "no employee leaves home to go do a bad job". While this is true of most workers, there is a small but significant minority that leaves home everyday to go and mess up everything at work. They spend most of their time engaging in water-cooler gossiping, complaining, fighting or stealing from their employer.

Can bad employees be changed?

The bad employee can be changed if the reasons that make him so are analysed and rectified. With a root-cause analysis as to the causes of bad behaviour in the work place, it is easy to convert an average employee into the best. Most problems are systemic and have little to do with the individual.

The fact that there are such employees in the first place points to a system that has problems that need solving. The aim is to have a good system that allows even the average person to thrive. An excellent person in a bad system will not succeed because the system does not allow for this to happen.

Qualities of a Star Worker

  • Always motivated
  • High quality work
  • Helpful
  • Gives ideas
  • Offers positive criticism
  • Punctual
  • Creative
  • Flexible

Why do Employees Have Low Morale?

Such behaviour creates a negative environment which leads to low productivity. Why do managers tolerate such behaviour?

In most cases it is because the managers themselves are not diligent enough to deal with cases of indiscipline among the ranks.

The standards that have been set within the organisation are not high enough to frown upon negative behaviour.

Do you think employers are to blame for the bad behaviour of their staff

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How do you turn bad employees?

So how do you turn the average and below average worker into a star worker? Before we answer that question, you have to know the reasons why the person is behaving the way they are. In most cases, it is because he feels that he is not been adequately utilised. He does not see any need of putting more effort than is required.

How do you motivate employees?

What are the typical ways of motivating such a disengaged employee? Traditionally, the carrot and stick approach has been used to motivate workers to perform better. The stick means the worker is reprimanded or worse, punished for not performing to expectations. The carrot consists of things such as pay raises, titles, praises, promotion and bonuses. These methods of motivating staff are extrinsic in nature and therefore do not last long. If the motivation is external, the desired actions will always cease when the stimulus is removed.

Using Performance Reviews to Improve Employee Engagement

Employees are mostly demotivated because the do not know what is expected of them. The other reason is that workers do have the skills for the job that is given to them. For fear of being reprimanded, the workers hide their lack of skills.

The performance is minimal under such circumstances and this leads to a demotivated worker. Work standards should be established so that employees know what is required of them in terms of productivity, quality, safety and cost.

The first step is to analyse all the jobs within an organisation, document them and use them as a basis for training and continuous improvement. An approach called the Job Instruction Method is used for the training of employees in a standardized way. For the analysis of jobs, the Job Breakdown is performed.

Employee Performance Reviews

Employee performance reviews should be a company wide process whereby all jobs are analysed for their content and difficulty. A trainer sits with the person doing the job with the aim of documenting it. All the critical steps required to do the job are recorded in what is known as a Job Breakdown Sheet .

This process of defining the job is important for the development of standardized work. As the work is standardized, it becomes easier to improve on it as there is a starting point for continuous improvement.

The job breakdown sheet is also used for training of new employees so that they do not feel confused once they move to the shop floor.

Job Breakdown Steps

The slicing up of a major task into a series of small steps is essential in understanding the job. This should result in a step by step process on how the job is performed which can be used by trainers to train new employees. The aspects of the job which don not add value are removed or revised so as to make the task easier for the worker.

Identify Major Steps

The major steps of a job are identified by taking a broad view of the tasks required to complete it. These steps are divided into core tasks and ancillary tasks. Core tasks are mandatory for the job to be done to a large extent. Ancillary tasks, while important, are done outside the job cycle and are supportive or preparatory in nature. The major steps should be grouped according to the categories stated before moving to the next step. The core tasks are sometimes further divided into non-routine core tasks because they are performed irregularly but are still core.

Identify Key Points

Key points are items that are essential to the success of the job and emphasise quality, safety, productivity and cost. They are the special methods that are used to achieve the criteria. It is sometimes hard to identify the key points because of lack of clarity. The best criteria of identifying key points is:

It is a Key Point if it is critical to the success of a Job.

These elements of the job are not easily identified yet they are crucial to the work. That is the reason why they have to be properly identified and documented. Key points must cover the following areas exhaustively:

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Productivity
  • Technique
  • Cost Control

Confirm reasons for the Key Points

All the key points have to be tested for relevance and accuracy before they are settled on as necessary for the successful completion of the job. If a problem occurs because of the lack of the use of a task then the reason for the key point is that if it is not done there will be a problem.

Transfer the Knowledge to Others

The document resulting from this process will be used for training of new and current staff. It is a standard training document that enables the work to be performed in a predictable way with consistent output. It involves four distinct steps:

  1. Preparation
  2. Presentation
  3. Confirmation
  4. Follow Up

The training of staff using the job instruction method is not only meant for routine jobs with repetitive tasks but also for non-routine jobs such as engineering. The concept is the same but one has to tweak a few steps in order to meet the demands of such a high level job.

The process should also be on-going so that the errors that are made in one cycle are improved in the next. It should be an iterative improvement cycle that keeps getting better and not a one-size-fits-all prescription to the work place training needs.


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