An engineer’s role is to fix, create, and ultimately make things happen. Therefore, engineers must be at the top of their games to be successful. While performance is partially based on the individual’s skills, employee management is also integral. Knowing how to manage difficult employees is part and parcel of being a manager. As a result, managers must take the necessary steps to deal with their underperforming engineers.

If an engineer is underperforming, the reason is almost never that they’re simply not good enough. Knowing how to motivate employees as a manager is essential for helping them maximise their performance. So, just how can a manager help an employee grow?

Find the source of the issue – what is the problem behind the problem?

An essential feature of employee performance management is problem-solving. As previously mentioned, it’s not good enough to simply deem an employee incompetent. Therefore, managing employees’ performance requires you to delve deeper into the issue at hand.

Are they unhappy within the company? Are they occupied by personal issues? Have they been improperly trained? There are so many reasons why an engineer may be underperforming, and it’s the manager’s duty to be aware of this and work towards finding a solution. Employees aren’t robots; they’re human beings. As a result, they need to be treated with compassion and given allowances from time to time. This compassion alone may be all they need to improve their performance.

Gain commitment to change and agree on a plan/route for improvement.

Whether it’s managing difficult employees or managing employees experiencing difficulty, managers can’t be reluctant to change. If engineers are underperforming, something needs to change, and all parties need to be in agreement on what needs to happen.

When finding a plan or route for improvement, management should sit down with the employee in question and discuss what needs to happen. It’s important to tread carefully in doing so, as the last thing anyone wants is for it to come off as an interrogation. After all, the manager and employee should be working together against the problem rather than working against one another. Bearing this common goal in mind is essential to finding a solution.

Monitor and recognise progress and have regular catchups to discuss.

Knowing how to manage a difficult employee also means recognising that change doesn’t happen overnight. Instead of scolding an engineer for not transforming into a different person within a day, managers should acknowledge the little progress that has been made. This acknowledgement should come in the form of regular catchups, wherein managers and engineers alike are able to express their views on the process. Managers should do all they can to create an open space in which anything can be said. They should clarify that nothing said within these discussions will be used to penalise the engineer. This will facilitate frank and open discussions, which are vital for any worthwhile progress to be made.

Give them the tools they need to succeed.

Last but not least, if engineers are struggling to perform, they need to be provided with the necessary measures for success. In order to determine exactly what these tools are, the manager should have a discussion with the engineer in question. After all, no one will know what this person needs more than the person themselves. In some instances, they might be apprehensive about requesting certain aspects, which could be holding back their performance. Therefore, the manager must clarify that they’re willing to consider anything that would put the engineer in a better position.

Dealing with underperforming engineers can be a tricky task. For further advice and guidance, contact us.