“I supervise a consistently low performer,” a manager said to me.
“For how long?” I asked.
“Since I assumed leadership. About ten months ago. I’ve tried everything. He is just not reliable.”
“Are you sure the employee has been properly trained?”
“Yes. I have personally reviewed the training a couple of times.”
Here are five steps for dealing with consistently low performers:
1. Check to see if you can modify the employee’s job tasks.
2. Nag the employee with reminders, checklists and 1:1 status reports.
3. Put the employee on a performance improvement plan.
4. Tolerate the low performance and quit worrying about it.
5. Work with your human resources’ partner to terminate the employee.
When you complete Steps 1-3, you have fulfilled your responsibilities as a leader. And if the low performance is disruptive to your team’s performance, you should move to Step 5. The inability to consistently perform tasks in almost all cases is due to lack of talent and not lack of motivation.
Talent is the inherited ability to consistently and to reliably perform tasks and you cannot teach talent. Employees who are ill equipped to perform their job tasks have little or no upside, and you do them no favors by allowing them to remain in their positions.