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A kinder way to look at "low performers"

By Jamie Resker on Apr 16, 2021 4:40:13 PM

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.

Jamie Resker

Written by Jamie Resker

Jamie Resker, Founder and Practice Leader of Employee Performance Solutions, is a recognized thought leader and innovator in the area of performance management. She helps organizations create a culture of performance development conversations by reshaping dialogue between managers and employees with a framework designed to exchange meaningful information. Jamie is the originator of the Performance Continuum Feedback Method®, an approach for differentiating employee performance, identifying gaps and crafting hearable, sayable feedback. Her work is anchored on the principles of neuro-leadership and elements of Appreciative Inquiry which make the tools and training universally applicable, transcending organization type/size, industry, geography and culture. Jamie is a frequent contributor on the topic of employee performance and feedback. She holds a BA in Business from Emmanuel College and is an instructor at the Boston University Corporate Education Group. She is on the faculty for the Northeast Human Resources Association and is an Advisory Board Member for the Institute of Human Resources.