When talking to leaders, managers and executives there is a lot of discussion around where they spend their finite time and energy.  One of the major areas that they devote a lot of time to is managing poor performers.  Individuals that don’t deliver on their commitments, don’t meet expectations around the organisations values or do not work effectively as part of a team. 

When probing deeper, I ask how much time they spend on their poor performers relative to their high performers.  The answer is disturbing.   The averages from the discussions I have had would be a ratio of five to one in terms of time spent worrying about and managing poor performers relative to high performers.   This is staggering for a number of reasons:


  • Poor performers do not produce anywhere near the outcomes that high performers do
  • Poor performers tend to be toxic with their influence on other team members.  They can be influential and negatively impact on team culture
  • Poor performers are not solutions orientated.  They tend to focus on problems and how others have contributed to where they find themselves
  • Poor performers don’t take personal responsibility for their response, the outcomes that have not achieved, the lack of positivity they exhibit
  • Poor performers bring down your high performers.  They demotivate them and get them to question how serious you as a manager are about high performance
  • Poor performers are often not team players who are not focussed on what is best for business.  Their focus is on themselves.


I want to stress in this blog that I am an advocate of following due process in providing the opportunity for any individual to improve.  This is not only the right thing to do but is an important message that needs to accompany this blog.  The need to coach, counsel and then move to disciplinary processes should be followed in a swift and decisive manner avoiding the dragging out of this process over months or years through avoiding difficult conversations or hoping they will improve by magic!  The reality is that it does not move through no effort and sometimes the only alternative is that in order to change the outcomes you are experiencing, you need to change the people.

To validate this blog, go back to one of your high performers after reading this and ask them what impact poor performers have on them.   The answer should strengthen your conviction to not avoid poor performers and give you conviction to move quicker through a process that will either make them improve their performance or get off the bus.  Your high performers and your organisation will thank you for it.