Performance Management According to the Bible

We have all dealt with poor performing or poor behaving employees. It is the nature of putting different people together and expecting them to work together in a harmonious way. I have been on both sides of the table. I have had to give performance messages and I have received a performance message when I lead a global project. I talked about it in the <<being trustworthy blog>>. I have also had to deal with co-workers who were behaving counter to the corporate culture. What is interesting is every company I have worked for had a different way to dealing with the issues of performance and behavior.

There is a scale in which employee issues are dealt with at each company. Some have a culture to deal with it immediately and you only get one strike and then you are out. On the other end of the scale is the company who doesn’t want to deal with it and allows employees to perform and behave any way they want. Most are in the middle somewhere. The ones who are a one and done tend to have very explicit job expectations and if you miss, then you are out. Many times without any kind of severance. On the opposite side, when leaders do not address the issues, they tend to pay off the employee to leave since there is no documentation. Documentation is needed because there are employee protections under the law. So a payoff or severance is necessary to keep the employee from talking.

There is a better way than what most companies follow. There is a heavenly principle and a biblical way to deal with an individual who is not performing or behaving the way they need to. We find it in Titus 3:10-11.

“Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.”

We also see the model in Matthew 18:15-17

 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

In both verses we see a model by which we should look to resolve behavioral or performance issues. If it is a co-worker, go to the person and share your feedback. There is a great model that I have used successfully with peers. Instead of just pointing out the issue use this model:

“When you”…fill in the issue or behavior the other person has

“I feel”…fill in how it makes you feel.

So an example might be:

“When you don’t meet your commitments…”

“I feel frustrated because I am not able to meet my commitments.” This takes any accusatory tone and places it on the result of their action or inaction.

Another way is to ask the person if you can give them some feedback. If they say ok, then let them know what you have observed and then give them an example of how it might be different or better. This way the person will feel like you are wanting to help them improve. An example would be:

“May I give you some feedback?”

“This is what I believe you do really well…”

“This is what I believe you can improve on to be even better…”

Both are great ways to approach a co-worker to take the first step outlined in the passages. If they don’t work, then it is good to escalate to their manager. If nothing changes, then it should go to the manager and Human Resources. They will be able to do the documentation necessary for the performance improvement. If nothing changes from the manager or HR, then the company should let the employee go.

The model is to basically to give the person three chances to improve. If they don’t, then it is on them and they should be let go. That is a consistent heavenly principle.

What do you think?  Would this work?


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