The High Cost of Under Performers

The High Cost of Under Performers
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Do Not Underestimate The High Cost of Under Performers

When we assess organizational culture, we find that too many managers underestimate the high cost of under performers.  For many managers taking on a leadership role for the first time, their major concern is whether the team will “like” and “follow” them. First-time managers often mistakenly think that if the team members think they are “nice,” the team will be more engaged and more productive.  Creating a high performance team is not that easy.

Why “Nice” By Itself Does Not Work
Of course all leaders should treat people with dignity and respect – that is just a ticket to play the leadership game.  But too many inexperienced leaders think “nice” means not rocking the boat or enforcing consequences for substandard performance at work.  This perception can be especially true for those team members who are well-liked or have been around a long time.

But the negative consequences of holding on to team members who lag behind in the performance or behavior race are daunting.  Under-performers and cultural misfits decrease both morale and productivity.

Harvard reports that toxic employees cause a whopping 78% of coworkers to decrease their commitment to the organization and 66% of teammates to decrease performance.  If leaders overlook poor performance, the company suffers in two ways:

  • Internal Consequences
    Poor performers drag down the motivation and commitment of workers who perform at or above the agreed-upon standards. The motivation and commitment to excellence take a hit across the board. As under-performance is ignored, high performers are liable to leave or decrease performance.
  • External Consequences
    The reputation of your company is at risk when you are represented by employees who are inferior or misaligned culturally. You risk losing customers and advocates as they witness the deterioration of the quality of your workforce.

New Leaders Should Go Slow to Go Fast
New manager training talks about going slow before going fast, and this is good advice in terms of managing performance. New supervisors should get the lay of the land before making big decisions or taking major steps for team reorganization or change. Once managers understand the current situation, they should address high cost of under performers.

  1. Get to Know Your Team
    Learn what makes people on your team tick — what motivates and drives them as well as what they most like to do and consistently do best. Wherever possible, take advantage of their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. Employees who are well-matched to their job roles “like” their situation and are more likely to be happily engaged in their work.

    And higher levels of employee engagement directly correlate to higher levels of employee advocacy, discretionary effort, and retention.

  2. Assess Individual Performance
    Every team has its top talent; and every team has its substandard performers. Even under performers often have strengths.  Your job as a new leader is to create the environment that gets the most out of your team.

    Because of the high cost of under performers culturally and financially, you need to set clear performance expectations, define meaningful rewards and consequences, identify why some are under performing, and take immediate steps (e.g., coaching, training, support, work allocation) to help them improve.

  3. Re-Assess Under Performers Who Continue to Struggle
    If after 90-days, there has been little effort made, no real improvement, or no true commitment to do better in spite of the improvement plan, under performers need to be compassionately moved elsewhere — either to a better suited position in the company or to another organization.

The Bottom Line
As a manager you must honestly appraise the quality of your workers or face the negative implications of avoiding your responsibility to deal effectively with under performers. The high cost of under performers should not be ignored.

To learn more about being a high performance manager, download 3 Must Have Ingredients for High Performing Teams

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