Posted in Articles, Creative Solutions For You

How to Turn Your Worst Employee Into a Top Asset

How to Turn Your Worst Employee Into a Top Asset

Source: Inc.com

You can’t save your weakest staffers. But you can use them as an way to upgrade your whole team’s performance.

shutterstock images

938
inShare

You’ve heard the adage, “Hire the right people, and everything else is easy.” That may be true, but it’s also unrealistic—especially in start-ups and rapidly growing, innovative businesses. Mistakes are made in hiring; high-potential peope fizzle out, burn out, or check out. Every owner eventually leads a workforce with mixed talent and ability.

And inevitably, one member of the workorce comes in dead last.

In that situation, the temptation is to fix the weak link. Under pressure from other team members who resent the poor performer, you start to squander time and energy in righteous indignation, remediation, and repair. It’s a dispositional world view—if only you could fix this one person, the organization would be better. I once took charge of an organization where a direct report actually told me, “Here we spend 90% of our time on the worst 10% of our performers.” If the worst are taking energy away from the best at your company, there is no way you are performing to capacity, and your leadership will be distracted and ineffectual.

How great leaders handle the problem

So what should you do? Great leaders reframe this issue, and start working on behalf of the team instead of fixing the “eaches”—a more situational world view.

Many years ago I saw this play out on a planning staff run by then-Lieutenant Colonel David Petraeus. It became clear that a few of us were substantially weaker than others. Petraeus had the power to fire and hire, but turnover creates its own set of challenges. Rather than spending his time trying to fix individuals, the future four-star drilled into team development using the weak performance as team indicators, rather than individual failings.

We became better—not in spite of the weakest performers, but because of them. Their performance focused us on organizational vulnerabilities and areas where we could make changes to strengthen our processes. Our team took responsibility for each other’s products, worked together, and all boats rose. We sometimes worked around those who needed help, touching up their work, making sure that the team didn’t fail. We were respectful of people trying their very best but falling a little short, and everyone learned to critique unemotionally. I loved working on that staff, and in just a few months with no personnel changes, we became very, very good.

Why the weak performer is a gift

The primary insight is that poor performance points to conditions in the organization that allow it to occur. What a gift that can be! In the long run, it’s usually more important for you to address those conditions than it is to fret over a single weak employee. Is there a flaw in the hiring process that, if fixed, could improve hiring across the organization? How can on-boarding be improved so that everyone’s potential is maximized? Are the right assessments and metrics in place to help predict problems before they take the organization down? Are other leaders in the right place at the right time? Is there sufficient coaching? Is there sufficient guidance provided so that people make the right decisions? The list goes on.

A single poor performer can capture a leader’s attention and energy like a drowning person taking a would-be rescuer to the bottom. Team rescues, on the other hand, always succeed.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not represent an official position of the US Military Academy, the Army, or the Department of Defense.

Col. Thomas A. Kolditz: Tom is the founder of Saxon Castle, a consultancy specializing in leader development. Since 2000, he has taught at West Point, where he was founding director of the Academy’s Leadership Ctr. @ThomasKolditz

 

Advertisements

Author:

Hi, I am Coach Razan Kilani. I am certified by the International Coach Federation as a PCC. I have coached over 35 clients for over 1500 hours. I love my work! It's been such an honor for me to share my clients' lives, troubles, achievements and precious moments. Together, we nurtured their paths and mine towards success and happiness. My job interprets who I am and very much enables me to fulfill my innermost values in life, such as giving, understanding, respecting, caring and going on perseveringly. I established Wisdom Within Consultancy over 6 years ago, and has catered to wide ranges of my clients, of all ages, circumstances, and challenges. At Wisdom Within Consultancy, we offer Emotional Intelligence highly Certified Coaching to individuals and groups, comprising all ages and different fields of work. We coach business groups, yet we do focus on the person interacting in the different aspects of his or her life (parenting, relationship and work). Coach Razan empowers you to achieve goals you have always wanted to achieve, and to overcome obstacles that are hindering your progress in life and work. With over 6 years of international experience, I would love to support you to find your inner voice, and live the life you wish to live, in order to be happy, successful and content. Contact me on razan_kilani@hotmail.com and begin your life changing journey! If you feel stuck in any way, then Wisdom Within Coaching can help you. Low self-confidence, work-life balance, emotional intelligence, social anxiety, weight loss, reducing your social and emotional anxiety and stress, improving your or your employees' performance, finding time to meditate or to spend time with your loved ones and if you need help in realizing your dream goals, get the work you want, etc. then please contact us on wisdomwithinconsultancy@yahoo.ca. We can help you get unstuck and move toward the life you really want to live from now on. Join us!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s