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How do you turn around a dysfunctional staff?

Dealing with a poorly performing staff is a problem all business owners and managers must deal with at some stage. PAUL KEIJZER offers some advice for those facing this dilemma.

Working with the staff of a jewellery store means learning to deal with the ups and downs of business.

As a business owner or manager finding the solution to any woes faced by an otherwise high-performing staff is your responsibility.

If you find yourself facing a roadblock, consider reflecting on the following tips that can help you with what you need to turn around your dysfunctional staff.

Clean house

•  Rid your team of the non-performers: This is rarely an easy process, but it must be done.

You will save yourself time and goodwill with your staff if you immediately get rid of those within the business that do not add any benefits.

You will soon notice a shift in energy and a change in the way your business comes together.

•  Fill your team with capable people with the right attitude: Businesses only work well when everyone feels they are working as one system and not being slowed down by others.

Make sure you hire those individuals that have attention to detail and most importantly always follow through on tasks.

• Be clear of your vision and what needs to be done to achieve it: As business owner or manager, you need to have a clear picture of what your vision is and of the means needed to accomplish it.

Your vision should have milestones so that your staff can keep track of their progress in relation to the overall goal. Don’t leave them wondering, let them be clear on what needs to be done.

Think big

• Make your ideas theirs: People hate being told what to do, so keep that in mind when speaking with your staff.

Instead of instructing your staff on what you want and need to be done, interact and ask them in a way that will make them feel like they came up with the idea.

Keeping members of staff actively involved in decision-making helps motivate them to work harder.

“Your vision should have milestones so that your staff can keep track of their progress in relation to the overall goal. Don’t leave them wondering, let them be clear on what needs to be done.”

•  Be generous with praise: Praise is something everyone wants and fortunately it’s one of the easiest things to give.

A simple “thank you” or “good job” can go a lot farther than you might think. Praise improvements that you see your staff make and let them know their hard work does not go unnoticed.

• Schedule regular ‘face time’ with your staff:  If you maintain the notion of an ‘open door policy’ then stick to your word.

The strongest managers and owners that are able to maintain the best staff understand the importance of ‘checking in’ and keeping an open dialogue and communication with every member of the team.

If it doesn’t happen, then the employees within the business can start to gradually drift apart.

•  Conduct your performance reviews to be most effective: Performance reviews are an extremely effective way to communicate with employees and get a sense of where they feel they stand within your business.

Performance reviews are huge predictors of business performance and help both the employee and manager understand and appreciate the other.


• Hold individuals accountable: If a staff member is not pulling their weight, as the manager or owner, you have to call them on that.

Approach the matter with honesty and discretion, getting your point across as suggestive and constructive instead of feeling like you are accusing anyone.

It’s important to understand that the employees who are pulling their weight will appreciate you for taking control of the matter.

• Give your staff recognition and small rewards: Every member of your business wants to be appreciated for their hard work.

Recognising their efforts and rewarding them will keep them motivated. These gestures can be small and effective.

For example, give a ‘shout out’ to someone during a business meeting for what he or she has accomplished that week.

Consider running internal office contests or games or even try rewards such as trophies, certificates, and plaques.

•  Share the ups and downs: When your business or staff does well, it’s time to celebrate.

This is a great way to let everyone know that you’re thankful for his or her hard work. If there are disappointments, share those too.

If you expect high performance, your staff deserves to know where the business stands.

With all of the above, remember that the most important factor is to always be honest.



Paul Keijzer

Contributor • Engage Consulting

Paul Keijzer is CEO of Engage Consulting, which is focused on helping CEOs transform top teams, talent and organisations. Learn more:

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