organizational performance

3 Ways HR Leaders Can Address Poor Organizational Performance

By Baili Bigham

As much as we like to focus on optimizing performance, the fact is that issues are inevitable, and sometimes performance dips. How we handle challenges is crucial to any relationship, especially within the workplace. And often, it’s up to HR leaders to assess and address these issues. 

So, what do you do when you notice your organization isn’t performing as it should be? Here are three tips you can use to help turn things around before it’s too late. 

1. Uncover the why

Before you can address any problem, you have to understand what it is. Poor performance is often the result of another underlying issue. Is your workforce burnt out? Has there been a recent leadership change or shift in priorities? Are market forces beyond your company impacting your clients’ businesses? Each of these situations can lead to poor performance, but each requires a different response.

To properly understand what’s causing the lull, you need to actively seek out honest employee feedback

In addition to being proactive and asking the right questions, there are two other steps you can take to promote open, honest communication. First, be sure you’re creating a psychologically safe work environment where team members aren’t afraid their input will get them in trouble. And secondly, it’s important you respond to the feedback you’re given. Even when you can’t fulfill a request or directly address a complaint, making sure your team members feel seen and heard will encourage them to be open in the long run.

2. Give your managers the right type of support

Our CEO and co-founder David Hassel likes to say that “Managers are the lynchpin of any organization’s success.” Managers’ performance creates a ripple effect throughout an entire organization. So when performance is slower than usual, it may be time to check in with your lynchpins.

Make sure your managers are getting the resources they need to manage their teams effectively and solicit their input on where performance issues may be stemming from–especially during reviews. Most managers have never received management training. This means that despite being tasked with year-end reviews, they’ve never been trained on how to conduct them.

Providing managers with a seamless structure for conducting effective performance reviews will offer more value than just surfacing what employees are thinking; they can help managers identify what behaviors are driving performance and uncover areas of opportunity. The end result will be employees and companies that cross the finish line together.

3. Make employee engagement a strategic business initiative

The lines between work and home were blurring well before 2020. And as such, we’ve seen an increased focus on the employee experience, with more and more studies highlighting the value of taking care of your people. 

One study showed that engaged employees are 43% more productive and generated $72,000 more than non-engaged employees. And according to Gallup, engaged employees are 45% more adaptable to change

Now that most of us are working remotely, and unable to separate work from home, it’s more important than ever that to proactively make your team feel connected and supported. Investing in effective, ongoing employee engagement, such as wellness programs, flexible work hours, and professional development, is a thoughtful approach when it comes to organizational performance. 

Challenges are inevitable. How leadership responds to them goes a long way in reinforcing the company’s values and building its culture. HR is uniquely positioned to address organizational performance in a way that promotes long-term, positive outcomes for both the business and the employees.

Baili Bigham is the Content Manager at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, OKR tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and 360° reviews. When Baili isn’t writing, you can find her binge-reading a new book or strategizing ways to pet every dog in San Francisco. 

Image credit: Shutterstock


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