This month we want to open up the dialogue of how this challenge is affecting the broader Organisation and not just the few “poor” performers.

Manager: “It seems we are not in agreement about how you have been performing. I believe it has not been good enough and I have  given you reasons for that belief, and you disagree.  Right?”

Does this sound familiar?

If there is one thing certain it is that you are going to come across situations where you are dissatisfied with the performance or behaviour of some of your people. For whatever reason – so-called human nature, working conditions etc., you will come across such situations and people.

And even if they are unavoidable we often try to avoid them because we don’t feel comfortable in dealing with them or confident that we will handle them well.  Our attempts to address poor performance can end in conflict and so there is a temptation to ignore them or tolerate them. After all, we believe the instances of poor performance or behaviour are relatively few, so why not live with them?

The problem with ignoring them is that the majority who are performing satisfactorily begin to question why they should keep doing their best while others get away with doing little. They lose heart and consciously or unconsciously slip into the poor performers group. Those in the high performing category lose heart also and drop their standards or just leave.   So there’s a price to be paid for not dealing with the few.

Turning a Blind Eye

It is not easy to deal with these situations and to confront someone whose performance is slipping. It is uncomfortable and possibly contentious. It can mean the end of what was or seemed to have been a nice, friendly relationship. Even though we are managers we can feel challenged, criticised, blamed and abused for confronting people. We end up frustrated and angry.  So very often we turn a blind eye to them and justify or explain away what is going on – anything to avoid facing up to the awkwardness of dealing with the person or the situation.

For that reason, managers can get caught in a bind between being demanding in order to achieve the required result, and being in good relationships with people.

This can seem as if there is a choice to be made between being a strong, professional and results-oriented manager or being a caring, understanding and people-focused manager.

The temptation to avoid challenging people and unsatisfactory performance can increase when we see that it is only a small percentage of people who fall into this category.

In addition to this, addressing some issues with one person could cause problems with others and so damage could be done to overall relationships with more people.

So, for all these reasons it can seem to make sense to hold off challenging people in the hope that the good and outstanding performers will make up for the few under-performers.

Let’s begin a dialogue – ok?

Is this a Real Challenge for you or for Other Managers in Your Organisation?

  • Outstanding performers leave
  • Good performers drop their standards
  • Everyone feels aggrieved at being expected to make up for the under-performers.
  • Different standards operate between managers around handling performance
  • The overall culture suffers from perceived unfairness.

How many of these are you or other managers experiencing because of this?