Serial Low Performers and how to exit them with Coach, Counsel, Shoot
Every now and then you’ll get a serial low performer that is a toxic presence in your team. They can be incredibly stubborn and many leaders find dealing with these people the hardest part of their work.
In these cases it is unhealthy for both them, yourself and likely several other people in the team if they don’t seriously change their ways or move on.
WHAT THIS IS REALLY COSTING YOU
- These individuals can cost you enormous energy and time. In some cases, they can dominate all your thinking and priorities as you try and fix mistakes, calm other people and stakeholders down. It just hold everyone back like an anchor chain
- They repel high performers and attract people like them
- Results suffer, culture change has no chance while this behaviour continues
- The difficulty of the conversation or process causes many leaders to just put up with it. They may even have one go, fail and then give up.
- It affects your confidence, self belief and can ruin your transformation and track record which ultimately means it stalls your career.
THE BENEFITS WHEN YOU DEAL WITH LOW PERFORMERS QUICKLY
- Great Chiefs are brilliant at shifting low performers into better performance or moving them on. They understand the importance of getting the right people on the bus and letting the wrong people off at the next stop
- Shifting this individual can be a huge relief for everyone involved. A whole team can take a collective sigh of relief. They didn’t realise how much of an impact the person was having and they spread their wings and really fly.
- Every leaders I’ve ever helped through this process comes out the other side really proud of their courage and effort. They grow as people and as leaders.
THE THREE STEPS IN DETAIL
- Reset the bar and with a growth mindset give them every chance to improve. This is vital for all involved. You must start by believing you can shift them into a better place. Bring your energy, courage and resources to bear to help them improve.
- Seek understanding as to they are behaving the way they are or getting the results they are. Work through their skills, the process they follow, where they find the role hard.
- Set some new goals that are a step performance improvement. Be clear on the new outcome and that any existing targets/poor behaviour are now finished
- Give as much high quality feedback as you can
- Define a clear path for them to improve with new skills, resources and support to help them get there
- Define the timeline and agree the next time you will meet.
- Follow it up and don’t miss a beat
Counsel – No significant improvement made
- Now it’s time to counsel in a formal sense.
- The behaviour or results cannot continue. If they do then you will be left with no choice.
- If necessary, now is the time to follow your internal HR procedures around performance management and formal written warnings.
- Issue the written warning if that is your business process
- Review the coaching you’ve already given them and outline the extra support they’re being given.
- Be crystal clear that if things haven’t changed in a set time period which is fairly short then they can’t stay.
Shoot – If no improvement made
- Enough is enough, rip the band-aid off quickly.
- Maintain RESPECT and prepare meticulously for the removal from role meeting. Steel yourself.
- Some very helpful questions include:
- What do you think the next step would be?
- Do you really think this is working out?
- What would you do if you were in my position and a team member was doing what you’re doing?
- Advise them that the performance management process has been completed and it is time to part ways. Follow your internal HR processes to the letter. Have someone else present in the meeting if you need to.
- Find a way to part on mutually acceptable terms.
- Confirm what happened with your team
- Find an A-Grade replacement