Avoid this pitfall with weak performers


Human nature leads us to avoid situations in hopes it will resolve itself. This is particularly true for situations involving mediocre performers. They’re not doing anything terrible, but neither are they really succeeding. In moments like these, it’s tempting to withdraw and assume you made a hiring mistake while simultaneously waiting for them to make a mess big enough to fire them. But what if instead of retreating, you pursued.

Leadership development isn’t just about prescribed, structured opportunities and carefully orchestrated programs, it’s about the opportunities found in the trenches of everyday life. Instead of writing off underperforming members, be willing to have difficult conversations and continue investing in their growth with the hope of realignment. Where do you begin?

  • Proactively pursue. Set up a time to realign expectations and discuss current performance

  • Assume good intentions. Most people want to succeed. For now, assume it’s a miscommunication or misunderstanding of what success looks like in this position, which leads to our next point.

  • Be a learner. It’s possible you may be a part of what holds your leader back. This conversation is an opportunity to hear from their perspective about what is needed.

  • Create an agreement for clear, developmental objectives to work on in the coming months and set expectations of what it means if they are not met.

  • Affirm who you believe they can be. It’s easy to focus on what someone is lacking, but a great leader will also affirm who they see that individual becoming.

Leaning in with weaker performers is never easy, but doing so sends a strong message that you care about their success and the success of the organization.

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