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Underperforming Employees

Before you make a change, review the overall influence a worker has on your operation

The farming industry has been evolving for centuries, and staffing requirements have changed right along with it. The expectations of employees should match the needs of the farm at any given time. What should you doif an employee isn't living up to the expectations set before him or her? How long should an employee be on payroll if production requirements aren't met?

It is easier to let someone go from the company when he or she has violated an ethical boundary, but a far more difficult challenge to make that decisions based on low or mediocre performance. Understanding where the final line is fro an employee who stirs the pot, has a negative attitude or just can't get the job done right can be challenging.

It's never easy to let go of an employee. There are typically two reasons that cause the most hesitation: emotions and fear of not being able to replace the employee. Terminations can be uncomfortable, and the situation can get downright awkward, especially with a small team where families know one another, and the relationship is much deeper than it would be in a corporate environment.

If you're constantly focused on or frustrated with an employee as an owner or member of the management team, it si time to make a charge. You run the risk of losing your high performers if you are settling for a culture where underperformance is acceptable.

Salvage your investment

When time, money and training are poured into an employee, it is hard to let go. A progressive farm needs to do everything it canto retain that investment. When an employee is underperfroming, consider the postion that particular individual is in. Is it the right one? Has there been adequate training? Are there personal problem interfering with performance?

Berbal counseling is the first step and can often turn that complacent employee back into a producer. It's important that employee knows he or she is being monitored and held accountable for the efforts put in at the farm. Verbal counseling shouldn't be an isolated event; is should occur reglarily since it shows you are an ally in the imporvement process.

Warning signs

Aside from the legal requirements of terminating someone from a job, it is important to notice the warning signs of a staff member who may no longer be a good fit for the position.

Takie note if peers begin complaining the person has trouble fitting into the culture at the farm,if the frequency of excuses grows or if the employee begins to slack. Before terminating an employee, a leader needs to be able to honestly admit he or she has done everything possible to help the employee succeed.

Farm Liability

If a terminationis going to happen, there are things you should do in order to protect the farm from liabiltiy:

* Performance issues need to be clearly communicated on multiple occasions, preferably with a paper trial.

* Let the individual go early in the week and first thing in the morning.

* You should have a script of what you need to cover in advance and take as much emotion out of the conversation as possible. If I has toput a time limit on the conversation, it shouldn't take more than 5 to 10minutes. Be sure to cover items such as when health insurance coverage ends and how earned vaction tiome will be handled.

* Logistically, consider how to handle the employee collecting his or her personal belongs, such as a toolbox.

* Communicate with the rest of the team. Use the turnover as a learning experience for everyone and the new opening as an opportunity to llok at the new opening as an opportunity to look at the structure of the organization and decide if there needs to be any job role changes. Before the next hire, outline what you need in terms of skill, personality and experience that will align with your farm.