What should a CEO do with a poorly performing construction executive?

Terminating weak or poorly performing construction executives is not always the right answer. Some may be delivering inferior results because of personal problems, lack of training, unrealistic expectations, or failed attempts to innovate. Often the proper response to these issues from a construction CEO can turn a hopeless executive into a corporate champion.

1. Start by asking poor performers if they enjoy what they are doing. It is nearly impossible to be very good at something when you absolutely hate it. If construction executives with potential for success do not enjoy their present job, then think about whether they would be a fit for the firm in a different position or with modified duties. If this is not possible or if they simply do not like the business, then the most merciful thing to do for both for the miserable executive and for the firm is to encourage the individual to move on to something more enjoyable. Construction executives who do not like what they do are destined for failure. Their self-esteem and work ethic will only deteriorate more if they continue in the same job. In the long run, letting them go is doing them a favor.

2. Find out if construction executives feel confident in their job, or whether they need further training and support. By providing the right training or coaching, many construction executives can be refocused or turned on to being a star performer.

3. Sometimes a little understanding of personal difficulties is a huge boost to moral and work performance. The most tactful way to discover personal problems is by meeting in private with the individual, acknowledging the change, and asking, what is going on? Many construction executives will not come to management with the problem, but will be relieved when asked.

4. Many cases of substandard executive results are due to unclear expectations. One cannot arrive at a destination if one does not know where it is. Give construction executives the opportunity to define realistically high objectives for their positions. People will try much harder to meet their own goals than those that have been imposed upon them.

5. If a drop in performance is caused by realistic innovation, CEOs need to be forgiving. You cannot succeed in today's market unless you are different and dramatic; originality necessitates calculated risks. If executives fail or make mistakes in an intelligent attempt to innovate, they should be supported and not chastised.

6. It is imperative that management complete timely performance evaluations. This helps management catch poor performance early and work through problems together. A bad report can always be purged after significant improvements. Evaluations also provide an opportunity to recognize and reward peak performers. High performers are the people who will most want to know how they can improve, so always have suggestions ready and make expectations clear.

7. Never be too hasty to terminate a potentially good construction executive. Sometimes poor performance can be a result of a soft market and potentially unrealistic expectations. People's careers and self-respect are serious issues. If a construction executive's numbers are bad, but the person has potential, then the CEO should wait. Examine the situation from all aspects and terminate only as a last resort. A good rule of thumb is to get two managers to agree on any hire and on any fire. However if management decides to terminate, proceed with caution. Review all of your policies and procedures in order to ensure that you will not have any legal problems after the termination. Acting emotionally can be expensive and time-consuming in the long run.