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Succeeding with the Bottom 10%

Every organization has a bottom 10% of employees, leaders, and managers who perform poorly.

Your goal, if you can’t remove the bottom 10% is to maximize the situation.

7 reasons for poor performance:

  1. Negative environments where managers are dictatorial, disconnected, or incompetent.
  2. Leadership that tolerates poor performers.
  3. No honor for high performers. Organizations that give across the board raises encourage poor performance.
  4. Lack of connection with colleagues.
  5. Lack of commitment to do well.
  6. Talent or skill deficit. 
  7. Distraction because of personal issues.

Succeeding with the bottom 10%:

  1. Address it; don’t ignore it. In many ways, leaders get what they tolerate. Successful leaders address issues others ignore.
  2. Commit to building an environment that promotes and honors high achievement.
  3. Encourage and participate in fun. 
  4. Keep working to develop everyone on your team, including the bottom 10%. Don’t give yourself an easy out. Keep searching for their performance triggers.
  5. Remember to see the good. Bad is stronger than good. Poor performance in one area my blind managers to good performance in another. The bad obscures the good.
  6. Eliminate negative impact. One poor performing team member has an inordinately powerful negative impact.
    1. Protect high performers from low performers.
    2. Give low priority assignments to the bottom 10%
    3. Put all low performers on the same team. Who knows, they may do something remarkable? Distributing poor performers throughout your organization is like sprinkling poison sprinkles on ice cream.
  7. Keep them away from your “A” players. (Connected to #4, but I need to say it.)
  8. Establish higher oversight.
  9. Establish consequences.
  10. Find an assignment that better matches their passion, skills, and talent.
  11. Spend more time with high performers than poor.
  12. Use them to make you a better leader. Keep asking yourself, “What am I learning.”

Don’t feel bad if you’re dealing with poor performers.  There’s always a bottom 10%.

What are some reasons for poor performance? (Legitimate or not.)

How might leaders deal with the bottom 10%?

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