Falling Stars – Can they shine again?

Twinkle, twinkle super star how I wish there were more people as good as you are!

No matter what your market conditions, the common concern among property management professionals is that you really never know what you are going to get when you hire someone. Sure there is some credible testing out there, but even super stars can become falling stars. Roll up your sleeves. This is the tough part of the job. You are not alone when it comes to the uncomfortable task of addressing performance problems.

Even in the very best organizations, almost every manager will have to deal with at least one problem employee – uncooperative, emotionally unstable, chronically late, “just getting by” performance, etc. I hope falling stars represent only a small percent of your team. Yet just one falling star on your team can mean a great deal of your attention and time. Who suffers? Well for starters, the super stars. They need your attention to nurture their motivation. You will also suffer because you are not spending time on pressing issues. Eventually you will not be satisfied with the job you are doing, that is if you too are a superstar.

Sometimes when a team member consistently under performs, the manager assumes that he or she has failed as a coach and superstars hate to fail. Try this thought on for size – a good coach helps employees get to where they need to be by creating an environment for which their true talents and skills can shine. But ultimately, it’s each employee’s responsibility to decide whether to be a super star, a middle star, or a falling star. Truth is, you can influence that decision but you can’t control it.

Falling stars can have a detrimental impact on your entire team. If you allow them to “skate by,” you reinforce their commonly held belief that “the less I do, the less I’ll be asked to do.” And, since your team’s work does not decrease, your top performers will be challenged with more work in order to pick up the slack. Not a good strategy! Coaching the falling stars – helping them improve, or replacing them with more productive people – represents the area with the greatest opportunity for enhancing the overall performance of your work group. But, most managers are not comfortable addressing employee performance problems. That’s easily understood.

Performance issues are stressful, and many of us don’t have the training and experience we need to deal with them. As stated earlier, because you’re a top performer, you’ve probably had little experience with this type of coaching. Nevertheless, there still will be problems staring you square in the face.

Allow me to address the challenges you may be facing with the newest generation to enter our workforce, Generation Y. These fresh young faces have a whole different outlook on their work. Generation Y is often viewed as idealistic, with a high level of social consciousness. They’re frequently anti-establishment and are concerned about stress on the job. They are generally outspoken and make up the largest pool of young people in the job market today and tomorrow with a staggering 78 million in this generation! For them, promises of monetary rewards and overtime pay may not interest them as much as time off to attend a party, concert or just hang out with their friends.

Keep these facts in mind when coaching your Gen Y employee. They love to learn and be part of your team but will feel like an outsider if they are not encouraged to speak up and often. For them, the job is a means to great balance in their lives. Having an advanced level of tolerance for this need will create a better relationship. This generation yearns to be past of a company that is focused on building it together and having a higher purpose. They respond best to participative management and will value flex time. They want to work but don’t want work to be their life. If you have established a positive work climate, you have a decision to make with each problem. You can close your eyes, live with the situation, and accept the negative impact of your falling stars’ lower performance. Or, you can conduct a performance improvement session in which the employee will either commit to your standards – or choose to ignore the problem and face the logical consequences. Of course, opting for the performance improvement session is your best decision. Take that path, and the rest of the decisions will be the employee’s. And if the person chooses not to change, let him or her quit and seek employment elsewhere. Or, follow your corporate guidelines for formal discipline and possible discharge. Your entire team will benefit from the change.