As managers and business owners, at some point in our careers, we have come across late bloomers who have difficulties grasping the role they've been hired for.

These employees are typically those you assign an hour's worth of work only to find a few days later they are still yet to complete the task at hand.

As a manager running a business within a fast-paced environment with time pressures, this type of employee can be pretty frustrating. Slow employees can add pressure to you and the rest of the team as everyone is forced to jump in and pick up the slack continuously.

If slow employees are generally underperforming and not working out in the role, then the best answer may be to simply performance manage them out of business. But often, these employees display all the skills, competencies and attitude for the job but take too long to complete tasks.

So what to do?

Here are six strategies for getting slow employees to meet deadlines:

1. Investigate Why.

Like any performance issue, the first step is to make sure you address the issue formally as soon as possible. Sit the employee down privately and explain that you have noticed the speed with which they are completing tasks isn't up to par.

Ensure you provide specific examples of tasks, including how long they took for the employee to complete versus your exceptions. This will help the employee understand a specific example and hopefully open up a broader conversation.

The next step is to try and uncover the core reasons why the employee is developing later than usual. Is it because they lack confidence? Require further coaching? Or Are you too detailed oriented? Try and find out the root cause.

2. Set Clear Deadlines and KPIs.

The next step is to ensure future tasks are precise with a reasonable deadline. Don't immediately set timeframes that reflect your fastest employee or are unrealistic, as this can demotivate any significant changes.

Instead, set realistic deadlines that give the employee the chance to show improvement and then continuously recognise these improvements and ask for them to work even faster next time.

3. Limit Distractions.

Employees who feel overwhelmed may accomplish very little, but if you feed them tasks a few times, they may be able to produce valuable work. Understand how your employees manage several tasks and how they can prioritise these tasks. For example, your employee may get sidetracked with emails instead of preparing a client meeting for the day.

4. Reduce Multi-Tasking.

Multitasking is one of those myths. Even the most experienced employees will find that trying to multitask is, in reality, really bad for productivity as our brains are not designed to jump between priorities constantly, and we are better at focusing on one thing at a time.

If you have an employee you're trying to coach to increase productivity, eliminating any requirements to multitask will likely assist.

Allow staff to prioritise tasks and ensure you check in with them to see how they went with completing each task. This will eliminate staff from getting too overwhelmed with their tasks and focus on each task as they come.

5. Review Responsibilities.

Perhaps one primary reason an employee is not performing tasks at the speed needed is that you may be asking them to stretch too much and complete tasks for which they lack either confidence or experience.

6. Coaching.

A good suggestion is to review these employees' broad responsibilities and start with smaller, less complex tasks with clear timeframes for completion and then gradually add more complex responsibilities as deadlines are met.

Slow employees can be pretty frustrating for employers; I get it. But rather than let your annoyance bottle up (and likely explode in an unhealthy way down the track), follow these tips to see if you can help the employee improve step by step.

Simon Ingleson
CEO RosterElf
Magically Simple Staff Rostering

Have Questions?

We Have The Answers!

How can I address a slow employee's performance?

Discuss specific tasks and deadlines to address the issue formally. Ask the employee to identify any challenges or obstacles they face.

What should I do if my employee gets overwhelmed by multiple tasks?

Limit distractions and reduce multitasking. Help them prioritize tasks and check their progress regularly.

How can I set realistic deadlines for slow employees?

Set clear, achievable deadlines that allow for gradual improvement. Recognize progress and encourage faster completion over time.

What if my employee lacks confidence or experience?

Review their responsibilities and assign smaller, manageable tasks. Gradually increase complexity as they meet deadlines.

Important Notice

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