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The Cowardly Manager’s Guide to Dealing with Poor Performers

The Cowardly Manager’s Guide to Dealing with Poor Performers

December 07, 2009

Dealing with a poor performer has to be one of the hardest responsibilities of a leader. Great leaders confront performance issues head on. They provide feedback, coaching, counseling, and if all else fails, real leaders fire underperformers. It’s all part of earning your scars as a leader.

Cowardly managers come up with all kind of creative ways to avoid dealing with performance issues. Here is a summary of many of the actual methods I’ve encountered:

1. Team building. Instead of dealing with the the one bad apple, drag the entire work group through “team building” sessions with the hope that the poor performer will be “outed” and fixed.

2. Assessments. Instead of simply confronting the employee, have the employee take a battery of assessments in the hope that they will figure it out for themselves.

3. Call HR. Hire an HR person to take care of all employee disciplinary problems so managers don’t have to bother.

4. Transfer the poor performer. Pass the poor performer off to some other sucker.

5. Training. Ask the training department to fix the poor performer.

6. Hire someone else to do their job. I’m not making this up – I happens all the time. But wait, there’s even a more ludicrous option, you can…..

7. Promote them. Really. It happens. Shocker.

8. Delegate it to another employee. Ask someone else on your team to “mentor” the problem performer. It would be a good “development opportunity”, thus killing two birds with one stone.

9. Delegate up. Have Mom or Dad deal with it.

10. Work around the performance issues. Otherwise known as “playing to their strengths”. In other words, strip all the hard parts of the job away until the poor performer can handle it.

11. Wait for retirement. Either yours or the poor performers.

And when all else fails, just stick your head in the sand and hope it all goes away. It won’t, but while you’re waiting, the moral and performance of your entire team will be dragged down like an anchor. When that happens, give a copy of this guide to your own manager, and hope you have a coward for a manager and not a real leader.

What are some other ways you’ve seen wimp managers avoid dealing with performance issues?

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