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Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace
MANAGEMENT’S DILEMMA:
WHAT TO DO ABOUT POOR PERFORMERS

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

2 out of 3 employees feel that their organization tolerates poor performers.

Part 1 - THE DILEMMA

Poor performers!


Every organization has them. I’m talking about employees who do the bare minimum. They don’t break any company rules. And they don’t make any blatant or costly mistakes. However, they are probably harmful to the organization.

What should be done?

Organizations that allow poor performers to just coast risk being perceived by other employees as indecisive and ineffective. They also risk alienating good performers that may believe that management doesn’t have a clue as to who is performing well and who is not. Typical complaints from these employees are:

  • "Why should I work hard if so and so gets by on less?"

  • "I should be making more money than so and so;"

  • "I have to work harder because of so and so;" and

  • "It’s just not fair."

However, simply terminating poor performers may backfire in the long run because:

  • It is difficult to find replacements

    In today’s tight job market, management often feels that keeping a marginally performing employee is often better than hiring an unknown quantity that may not last.

  • Employee commitment may suffer

    Employee commitment is fragile. Terminating marginal performers may signal to average and good performers that management doesn’t really care about its people.

  • Morale may decline

    Employees may no longer view the organization as a fun place to work. In addition, they may become paralyzed due to fear and paranoia.

Part 2 - WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Parting ways may be the best solution when no other option is possible. However, the following options should be carefully considered first.

  • Identify the Root Cause

    Schedule a time to meet with the employee to discuss the situation. Don’t wait until the annual performance review. Try to identify what is causing the performance problems and how they can be improved. Explore potential causes both inside and outside of the work place. Most importantly, make the employee a partner in identifying possible solutions.

  • Assign to a Different Supervisor

    Sometimes a different supervisor may be able to bring the best out of a low performing employee.

  • Place in a Different Position

    Organizations as well as employees are constantly changing. Perhaps a different job within the organization would better suit this employee.

  • Retrain

    The skill set of the employee may need to be upgraded or changed.

I am very much interested in your views on this topic.
Please reply with your comments and suggestions to .

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