High Job Competence and High Behaviors. Employees in the far upper right hand corner represent our “A” players. Exhibiting an ideal combination of high Job Competence and high Behaviors, these contributors set a good example for other employees, mentor others and are predominantly self-managed. Still, we need to make sure they receive the message that we appreciate their contributions, value having them as part of our team and check for continued engagement. Our research indicates approximately 10% of employees fall into this category.
Mid-Level Upper Right Performers are basically solid contributors. If given a letter grade these employees would receive a B+, B or B-. Our research indicates that 55-65% of employees fall into this category. We want to figure out how to accelerate their development. Generally, they fit one of the following categories/scenarios:
1. Have room for more growth and development. They have more potential to grow, and want to. If they aren’t given ample opportunity to do so they will either get bored (in which case behaviors may slip) or they leave.
2. *Have reached their full/maximum potential and if we tried pushing them further they would be less successful in their role.
3. *Does not want to (or cannot) take on more than what they are currently doing. For ex- ample, a nurse who works three evening shifts and has three young children and makes the schedule work between herself and her spouse’s work hours.
*Exception: As is the case in most organizations today, the scope of the job responsibilities can change and new skills may need to be acquired to meet more demanding goals and objectives. When this is the case we may need team members to further their con- tributions. Because we can’t always let employees ‘stay where they are’ without growing their skills, it is important that we work with these employees to help them gain the new skills necessary for their newly expanded job responsibilities. In cases where the need outweighs the employee’s capabilities, you might find yourself faced with the need to replace the employee with someone who has greater capacity to fill the redefined job role.
Mid-Level Upper Right Performer Summary: It’s important to recognize the types of mid-level performers in our organization/teams because their needs vary. Take the time to get to know your employees, their interests and needs and meet them where they are to help them continue to stay in the upper right hand corner.
Lower Job Competence and Mid to High Behaviors. Employees in this quadrant tend to fit one of two categories: — New employees with high behaviors who are enthusiastic, eager to learn and are making steady progress towards gaining new skills, fulfilling job responsibilities and meeting goals. Close supervision, continuous direction and feedback are required. OR — Employees who have received support to learn the skills required to master the job responsibilities and meet goals yet lack the aptitude to absorb and apply the required skills. Job responsibilities and goals are only partially completed which results in essential job tasks going unmet and/or falling to the manager or more capable employees in the Upper Right hand corner. Although employees in this area of the Employee Performance Continuum are generally nice to work with a “watch out factor” here is that the employees who pick up the slack can grow resentful of the extra work caused by employees they label as chronic underperformers.
Employees in the Middle of Employee Performance Continuum. We often hear “what does it mean- I don’t see this person in any of the 4 quadrants- they are in the middle. Don’t panic, it’s actually quite common to indicate that an employee is smack in the middle of the Continuum. Our research over the years has concluded that it’s typically one thing that the employee has to start or stop doing to realize greater effectiveness. This could relate to a Job Competence factor or to a Behavior. We find that 8 out of 10 times it’s a Behavior that is the root cause for the employee being stuck in the middle. Identifying the “one thing” and helping the employee overcome the obstacle to success can help the individual make progress towards the Upper Right; thereby improving upon both Behaviors and Job Competence.
High Job Competence with disruptive behavior. Our research indicates that 20–25% of employees exhibit these characteristics. Perceptions about what constitutes disruptive behavior are highly variable. It’s not that the employee is simply quirky or odd, but that their behaviors impact co-workers in a destructive manner (thereby making it difficult for others to do their work). This can manifest itself in others being reluctant to ask questions, seek clarification and spend mental energy on “how not to deal with” the ‘bad behavior’ employee. These behaviors can be overt (including verbal outbursts, refusal to carry out certain tasks or work with particular individuals) but even more commonly we find that they are passive aggressive (condescending language, refusal or reluctance to cooperate with others, disparaging remarks about the organization, co-workers, boss or customers; negative tone and approach and quietly exhibiting other types of uncivil behaviors).
Impact: Your ‘A’ players have very little patience for dealing with these co-workers, which puts you at risk of losing your best employees. Alternatively, another risk is that your good employees may begin taking on some of the negative characteristics of the disruptive employee. We call this “going over to the “dark side.” Oftentimes we enable these bad actors in our organization by creating workarounds instead of confronting their offending behavior. Bad behavior is harmful even when it’s coming from otherwise and talented star employees.
Low Behaviors and Low Job Competence. If we were giving out letter grades, the performance for employees in this space would receive an “F”. Our research indicates that approximately 3 – 10% of employees reside in this area. One would assume that organizations would take swift action to eliminate these chronic underperformers, yet for a myriad of reasons we allow them to stay at their current performance levels. Why? There are many excuses: this person used to be a valuable employee but has slipped over the years; The employee is doing as much as he/she can- they have got a lot going on in their persona lives; a culture that sends a “we don’t care message” etc. Our view is to ‘help them out or help them out’ (figure out a way to improve their performance, or create an exit strategy). Not only do we sacrifice ROI on our financial investment in such employees, but they also reflect poorly on the organization as a whole.