I find movies are great educators. We can actually learn a lot about a manager's contribution to their employee's performance from Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.
Below are four reasons that YOU could be contributing to your employee's lackadaisical performance.
You've been busy with a large project and simply haven't had the time to properly train the employee. As hard or time consuming as it may be, sit down with the employee, have an honest conversation about what is needed in terms of training or performance improvement, and provide this to your employee. A telling scene is when Miranda says to Emily, "Details of your incompetence do not interest me." Be interested in your employee's performance needs. Be involved as their manager.
You're annoyed by the employee or one or more of their traits. Let's face it, not everyone is going to be a perfect workplace match, but make sure your personal annoyance isn't the reason that you see them as a non-performer. One of my favorite scenes from The Devil Wears Prada is when Miranda Priestly sarcastically says, "By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me." Don't let your annoyance or biases get in the way of a potentially wonderful employee.
You're creating an atmosphere of fear or intimidation. When describing her boss, Andy says of Miranda, "She's not happy unless everyone around her is panicked, cautious or suicidal." Somewhere along the way, you have wrongly thought that as a manager you should be tough as nails. Throw that idea out the window. It's negatively impacting your employee's performance.
Your employee is out-shining you. Jealousy is a terrible beast. I've seen this happen in the workplace in the form of not sharing key deadlines or withholding information and it's ugly. At one point in the movie Miranda quips, "Please bore someone else with your questions." Her response is intended to publicly make it clear that she's in charge, and the employee is not. Make sure the fear of being out-shined does not cloud your judgment.
When faced with performance concerns of one of your employees, check to make sure you're not the real culprit. As a manager or mentor, your goal should always to bring someone up and make your team shine. And who knew that The Devil Wears Prada is about more than just fashion, but also workplace relations.