3 minute read – Last updated: June 3, 2020

What to do if there’s a drop in performance & productivity since WFH

Ask the Expert with Robert St-Jacques — Episode 13

Our GM of Professional Services Robert St. Jacques has been answering the questions we continue to receive about HR and people management changes during the health crisis. 

Q: What should managers do if they’ve noticed a drop in an individual’s performance and productivity since they started working from home?

RSJ: We’ve gotten this question quite often. Looking at this problem, I want to break it down into a few bite-sized pieces. The first one is awareness. Make the individual aware of their productivity or performance. For this, I would focus on facts. Make sure that you have some numbers: KPIs, previous performance, and so on. Present them to the individual in a dispassionate, factual way and then ask them to comment on it.

When you ask them to comment on it, a few different options may come up. Everything from deflecting to defending, to full admission. Maybe, because they’re exhausted and tired, they break down.

Try to get to the root cause of what is going on. Is it with the individual? Is it the home situation? Is it that they don’t have the tools that they used to have at the office? Is it their mindset? Or is it general resources that they used to have that they don’t have now? Looking at those causes, some of them are fairly easy. In terms of mindset, it’s just making the person clear on what resources are no longer available to them, any processes that are no longer applicable, and what you are going to do instead. And then you coach them through the various solutions. 

Remember the old adage; nobody washes a rental car. I’d be quite hesitant in trying to tell the employee what to do. Use coaching methodology and try to pull it out of them. If it comes down to an individual situation related to their family, or to the lockdown or any of the multitude of priorities, just listen to the individual and help them walk through everything by asking questions — through coaching. 

Once you know what the real causes of the performance or productivity issue are, then what you’re doing is looking at co-creating a roadmap towards alleviating some of these causes and ensuring that these happen in a sustained manner. Both of you agree to do an accountability check-in or a one-to-one whereby you ensure some of the bite-sized pieces or baby steps that the person is going to take toward improving the productivity and performance continue to happen.


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