You can't ignore it any longer. For some time now, DC performance has been slipping. You've long suspected that the problem lies with your warehouse supervisor, but you haven't been able to bring yourself to let him/her go. It could be a well-liked old-timer who's constantly stumbling on the job ("He's always messing up, but he's such a nice guy. I can't fire him."). Or it could be a technically competent worker with an attitude ("She just doesn't get along with anyone, but she's so good at her job. How can I fire her?"). Either way, the problem has come to a head, and you have to act.
Chances are, this is not an employee who lacks both interpersonal and technical skills. If that were the case, you would have fired him/her long ago. This is a person with some redeeming features, which makes it a much tougher call. Does the good outweigh the bad? Is there a way to balance a person's skill set against his or her personality and fit with the company's culture (admittedly a highly subjective judgment)?
To lend some objectivity to the process, we've developed the Retention Rubric. To use the Rubric, you simply follow the steps outlined below to plot the employee's position on the grid and find the recommended action.
The horizontal axis: Skill set
1. On a scale from 1 to 5 (5 representing excellent and 1 representing very poor), evaluate the individual's ability to handle his/her assigned tasks. Does he or she schedule staff effectively? Are reports completed correctly and submitted on time? Does he or she manage inventory well? Are inventory counts correct? You may want to pull out a copy of the person's job description and run down the list, evaluating how well he/she performs each task using the 1 to 5 scale. Then, average the scores for each item to come up with an overall score.
2. Try to determine the root causes for a less-than-perfect score. Be honest and fair. If you believe that your organization is partially responsible for the person's difficulties—perhaps you've promoted someone from the ranks with no supervisory training—you must take that into account. It's not reasonable to punish a competent person who's effectively been set up to fail. Try to maintain objectivity when evaluating how well the person handles the job's technical aspects, but not at the expense of honesty. If he or she never turns in reports on time or keeps sloppy and inaccurate logs and inventory sheets, be truthful.
3. Evaluate the person's supervisory abilities. In other words, how good is he or she at motivating the staff? Is he or she an effective teacher or manager?
4. Consider the prospects for improvement. Is there any indication that this person could learn the missing skills or improve his/her performance? Do you believe this individual is capable of learning and willing to try?
The vertical axis: Fit with the organizational culture
1. On a scale from 1 to 5 (5 representing excellent, and 1 representing very poor), evaluate this person's ability to work well with others. Does he/she encourage teamwork and cooperation? Don't get sidetracked trying to assess his/her likeability; the real issue is respect. As you know, a person doesn't have to be liked to function well in an organization. Respect must be there; likeability is a bonus.
2. Review the real reasons for a lessthan- perfect score. Does the person try hard to do his/her best in a difficult corporate culture? Is he or she constantly getting the workforce riled up? Could the problem be that this person was trained in a different type of corporate environment (old habits die hard)? Could there be cultural reasons for the clash?
3. Decide whether he or she is a candidate for an attitude adjustment. If properly motivated, can he or she make himself/herself more agreeable and thus, more compatible with the company's culture?
Once you've plotted the scores on the Rubric, you'll have a better idea of what you're dealing with. You'll also have some ideas for the next step to take. That's no guarantee that this job can be saved, of course. The fact remains that not everyone will be able to improve or succeed. But you just might end up turning a so-so performer into a superstar.