Jobs & Human Capital

Cannot do, will not do: Dealing with Employee Non-Performance

by Bolaji Olagunju

August 9, 2016 | 12:18 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

Performance management is generally one huge headache for HR practitioners. One way of reducing this headache is by realising first of all that performance management is a continuous process, it is not limited to or all about annual performance reviews. As a matter of fact, it begins from identifying and hiring high potential employees during the recruitment process. Performance management may be described as the process of continuously assessing and evaluating employees’ performance, setting goals and objectives and monitoring progress and receipt of feedback by employees.

According to, the reasons for poor performance are: Ambiguous/inexplicit job descriptions and expected outcomes; Lack of training or knowledge; Employee’s personal problems; Employee is not suited to the job; Employee is simply a poor performer

As much as the above is true, performance management should not be conducted on speculations. Achieving success in the performance management system begins with conducting a Front-end Analysis. The FEA helps to determine that there is a gap, identifies the cause(s) and proposes solutions. The FEA primarily consists of the Performance gap analysis and Root-cause analysis.

The Performance gap analysis helps to establish that there is an actual gap in employees’ performance.

Root-cause analysis helps to identify the actual cause of the gap.

The FEA is an essential step in every performance management process. Without conducting a FEA, solutions will be based only on speculations and not on the organisation’s current realities. It is no different from a doctor who chooses to treat a typhoid patient for ulcer, because he neglected to properly investigate the symptoms.

Non-performers have also been grouped into two broad categories below:

The “Can’t do”- This signifies that an employee lacks the required capability or competence to perform on the job. It is basically the absence of knowledge or skill on a particular subject area, employee being a misfit for a particular role, or unclear JDs and deliverables leading to inability to be effective on the job.


Resupply: Engage your employee and find out if required resources are available. Where the complaint is that the resources are scarce, provide the necessary resources. In the same vein, where an employee does not clearly understand what he does in/for your organisation, clear out all ambiguities and make his deliverables very explicit.

Retrain: Where the issue is lack of knowledge or capability, or obsolete skills, retrain your employee and keep him up to date with technological and business advancements in his field.

Refit: Try to fit employee into roles/assignments that he fits into naturally or possesses required skills/knowledge, and he would not have to struggle with. You’d be surprised how quickly and greatly such employee’s performance would improve.

The “Won’t do”- This is a different ballgame altogether. This employee has the ability, capability and competence to do the job but still performs poorly, or not at all. This borders on the lack of willingness to perform on the job which could be due to low motivation, or that employee is simply a poor performer.


Rouse: Encourage demotivated employees by empowering them, providing incentives, communicating better and being an example of what you’d like to see them be.

Reassign: Reassign such employee to other projects or assignments. This should test how well he can do in other areas and help you know whether or not he’s not suited to the current assignment.

Release: For that employee who can but won’t, after trying the above solutions, you may need to let the employee go, as a last resort. A non-performing employee will influence his team and ultimately, the entire organisation negatively. The earlier he gets kicked out, the better for the organisation.

It is essential to hire a professional to conduct a Front End Analysis to establish the performance gap, and the actual cause of the identified gaps in order to determine which solution is best suited to the problem.

Bolaji Olagunju

by Bolaji Olagunju

August 9, 2016 | 12:18 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

Big Read |  


90 [ninety] candles for Dr. J.K. Randle

Continued from last week. When John Campbell served as the Ambassador of the United States of America to Nigeria from...

Top 100 (300 x250)



Election Banner