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How to Handle a Team Member Not Meeting Performance Expectations

Acing this question can lead to a job offer, yet it is tricky to answer well. This article will give you the insights and a structured framework to answer confidently.

What is the hiring manager looking for?

Hiring managers ask this question to assess your leadership and interpersonal skills. They want to know if you can effectively address performance issues while maintaining a positive team culture. They also want to see if you can provide specific examples of how you’ve handled similar situations in the past.

How to structure your answer

A good structure to answer this question includes:
1. Acknowledge the situation:
– Start your answer by acknowledging that you understand the importance of addressing performance issues.
2. Gather information:
– Explain that you would first gather information to understand the root cause of the problem.
– This may involve talking to the team member, their colleagues, and your manager.
3. Address the issue:
– Once you have a clear understanding of the situation, you should address the issue directly with your team member.
– Be specific about the performance expectations that are not being met.
– Provide constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement.
4. Develop an improvement plan:
– Work with the team member to develop an improvement plan.
– This plan should include specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals.
5. Monitor progress:
– Regularly monitor the team member’s progress and provide feedback.
– Be supportive and encouraging throughout the process.
6. Take appropriate action:
– If the team member does not improve their performance, you may need to take appropriate action, such as issuing a warning or termination.

Tips to answer this interview question

Tips and things to avoid:
– Be specific: Avoid general statements and provide specific examples of how you’ve handled similar situations in the past.
– Be objective: Avoid making personal attacks or blaming the team member. Instead, focus on the performance issue itself.
– Be supportive: Let the team member know that you’re there to support them and help them improve.
– Be fair: Be fair and consistent in your approach to addressing performance issues.
– Be timely: Don’t wait too long to address performance issues. The sooner you address them, the sooner the team member can start improving.

Example interview answers to this question

Sample answers:

1. “In my previous role, I had a team member who was consistently late to work and missed deadlines. I spoke to him privately about the issue and he explained that he was having some personal problems. We worked together to develop a plan to address his issues and he was able to improve his performance. I learned that it’s important to be understanding and supportive when addressing performance issues, and to work with the team member to find a solution that works for both of you.”

This answer is strong because it demonstrates the candidate’s ability to:
– Gather information and understand the root cause of the problem.
– Address the issue directly and provide constructive feedback.
– Develop an improvement plan and monitor progress.
– Be supportive and encouraging.

2. “I once had a team member who was very talented but was struggling to meet deadlines. I met with him to discuss the issue and we discovered that he was taking on too much work. We worked together to prioritize his tasks and set realistic deadlines. He was able to improve his performance and meet all of his deadlines.”

This answer is strong because it demonstrates the candidate’s ability to:
– Identify the root cause of the problem.
– Work with the team member to develop a solution.
– Monitor progress and provide support.

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