Finance Leadership Blog

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Dealing with Underperforming Staff in Your Finance Team

finance leadership hr May 30, 2024

As a leader of a finance team, dealing with underperforming staff can be one of the most challenging parts of your role. 

It's also the most time-consuming, especially if done right and for the benefit of both your team member and the team in general.

When you have team members who are not meeting performance standards, it's so important to address the issue promptly and effectively.

Here are some steps that can help you manage this process:

1. Clear and Structured Onboarding

For brand new team members, having a well-defined onboarding plan is essential.

This plan should outline the milestones they need to achieve during their probationary period, which is generally three to six months.

Regular check-ins at the end of each month can help both you and the new hire understand their progress and areas for improvement.  By the end of the probationary period both you and your new team member should know whether they should pass their probationary or not.  It shouldn't be a surprise.

2. Setting Clear Expectations

For existing staff, start by discussing their career goals and how they align with their current role.

Clearly communicate your expectations regarding deadlines, accuracy, efficiency, and ownership of tasks. This clarity helps in setting a benchmark for performance.

3. Regular Communication and Feedback

Frequent and transparent communication is key.

Regularly provide feedback and discuss any gaps in performance. This ongoing dialogue ensures that your team members are always aware of how they are doing and what improvements are needed.

4. Implementing a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

If performance issues persist despite your efforts, it may be necessary to put the employee on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) or a Performance Management Plan.

This formal process involves working closely with HR to set clear, measurable goals and a timeline for improvement. It's a last resort but necessary for addressing significant performance gaps.

5. Supporting Team Development

Continuous support and training are vital.

Whether it's additional training sessions with you, their peers, or external courses, ensure that your team members have the resources they need to succeed.

If performance doesn't improve, you might need to consider more formal steps, including potential dismissal.

Impact of Underperformance on the Team

A poorly performing team member affects not only your workload but also the morale and productivity of the entire team. Addressing these issues promptly can prevent negative impacts on team culture and overall performance.

Managing underperforming staff is a complex and often time-consuming task, but it's crucial for maintaining a high-performing finance function. By setting clear expectations, maintaining open communication, and providing continuous support, you can help your team members improve and succeed. If necessary, don't hesitate to use a performance improvement plan to formalise the process.

Remember, a well-managed team is a productive team, and as a leader, your role is to guide and support your staff towards achieving their best.

Looking to advance and quicken your finance career? Follow the steps in our Framework below:

    1. Sign up to our next workshop.
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    3. Download the Upgrade your Management accounts course to showcase your skills as a finance leader to the Founder, leadership team and the Board.


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