The one question you should ask your staff

There is one simple way to determine whether an underperforming employee can be motivated to improve, says one HR specialist

The one question you should ask your staff
When it comes to general people management, there is one question that HR should always be ready to ask: Do you love your job?
 
Karen Gately, business author and founder of HR management firm Ryan Gately, told HC that this one question allows management to enable a person’s career and build a successful team environment.
 
“It’s a powerful question to ask,” she said.
 
The reason is that it enables HR to deal with a disengaged employee in the right manner by first determining the cause behind their current mindset – whether that individual has merely dropped their performance because of a cultural mismatch or poor management or if they genuinely aren’t happy with their work.
 
“They’ll be pretty honest with you. People who love their job say ‘Yeah, I love my job’ and then you can understand that it’s a different cause of the issue.”
 
If the underperformance is caused by problems with a supervisor or the team, these can be dealt with as necessary. However, if the person genuinely doesn’t like their work, it can be a good idea to “coach them out” of the organisation, said Gately.
 
“If they just don’t like their job, they don’t like it and they’re never going to thrive doing it,” she told HC. “It’s the whole analogy of leading a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink.”
 
HR should thus help leverage the potential of these individuals and recognise that their best opportunities lie outside of the organisation.
 
“It’s not a bad thing if someone leaves your business if they actually belong somewhere else because they’re just wasting resources and space that could be taken by somebody who really wants to be there.”
 
Sometimes this can even result in that person returning to a business after spending time and learning new skills in another company, she said.
 
“There’s no point in having talent that you can’t leverage or you can’t extract value from because people are not choosing to apply themselves. You can keep it there sure and say ‘I’ve got that skillset in my business’ but if you can’t apply it, there’s no point.”
 
Related stories:
 
Working in a crisis: How to help troubled staff
 
Five steps to build trust in your team
 
Energising your executive team for high performance

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