A Kinder Way to Look at “Low Performers”

At-Risk Employees Versus Low Or Problem Performers

When performance is off-target, and the manager has yet to engage in a conversation, I advise against labeling people as low or problem performers. Instead, I describe this person as at-risk.

At-risk for:

  • Being passed over for new opportunities or more interesting work
  • Gaining a reputation of being incapable
  • Being put on a PIP
  • Losing their job
  • Landing on the people to lay-off list

Think of your at-risk employees, not as problems, but as people in need of support. No one should ever fail in their job because the manager hasn’t provided the right direction (gross misconduct excluded).

Try this:
Picture a person close to you. Your significant other, son, daughter, parent, or a good friend who is struggling at work, and unaware their standing is in jeopardy. Help your managers see employees as people with lives, aspirations, families, and financial obligations.

At-Risk Employees Versus Low Or Problem Performers

When performance is off-target, and the manager has yet to engage in a conversation, I advise against labeling people as low or problem performers. Instead, I describe this person as at-risk.

At-risk for:

  • Being passed over for new opportunities or more interesting work
  • Gaining a reputation of being incapable
  • Being put on a PIP
  • Losing their job
  • Landing on the people to lay-off list

Think of your at-risk employees, not as problems, but as people in need of support. No one should ever fail in their job because the manager hasn’t provided the right direction (gross misconduct excluded).

Try this:
Picture a person close to you. Your significant other, son, daughter, parent, or a good friend who is struggling at work, and unaware their standing is in jeopardy. Help your managers see employees as people with lives, aspirations, families, and financial obligations.

Effective managers address issues as they arise. But we need to accept that these skills don’t come naturally, but can be learned. Go beyond telling and assuming that managers are heeding your advice to give feedback early and often. Train and support your managers to engage in the right conversations.