Why Poor Performers Don’t Get It

The unskilled often feel they’re doing better than they are.

Poor performers, who lack skill, don’t realize their performance is poor. They think they’re fine. You think they’re failing.


Poor performers feel your frustration but don’t see the issue.

Source of sight:

Skill enables perception.

Skilled architects, landscapers, or managers see and correct problems quickly. They use their skill to assess situations, behaviors, and processes. The unskilled are blind.

The ability to perceive grows with skill. Sight is often in the hands and feet.

The less you can do, the less you can see.

Warning signs:

You can tell they can’t see when you see…

  1. Persistent correction but no improvement.
  2. Confusion about the cause of problems. They don’t get it.
  3. Stuck in unproductive behaviors.
  4. Lack of appreciation for behaviors that actually work.

It’s difficult for you to understand that what’s easy for you may be difficult for others.

Moving forward:

  1. Stay calm. Your frustration increases their stress and shuts down their brain.
  2. Clarify the win. Explain both desired results and behaviors.
  3. Model the way. Say, “Watch what I do.”
  4. Evaluate perception. Ask, “What did you see while you watched me?”
  5. Accept imperfect progress. Forget solving everything.  If current strategies haven’t helped, more of the same won’t.
  6. Choose slow. You want one giant leap, but all they can do is take one slow step.
  7. Stay simple. Choose one small behavior to develop. Don’t move forward until they get it. Break skills into small components.
  8. Create structure. Clear structure enhances concentration.
  9. Assess progress.
  10. Consider reassignment.

Insight increases as skills increase. Explain less, develop skills more. Those able to do more, see more.

How do you deal with poor performers?