Poor performer? What to consider before you ‘take them off the bus’

Most leaders have been there…a team member who just doesn’t ‘cut the mustard’, who fails to deliver what is expected, who behaves in a way that brings the overall vibe of the team down….

Our natural inclination is to think – it is all about them. They are the problem. They need to go…

And for some poor performers, this may very well be true…but as a leader, it is important to stop for a moment, and think about some key questions before we move too far down the path of ‘taking them off the bus’.

Is it a skill issue?

Is it a will issue?

Is something else stopping them? (a personal thing? a team thing? an organisation thing? could it be me?)

Have I set them up for success?

Start by checking your mindset

Mindset can play a key role in how people perform. As mentioned in a previous blog, Mindset – Do you mine for Gold?, it is frightening to appreciate the impact your thinking has on you and your dealings with people. What you believe about a person can have a profound effect on what they do, what they don’t do, and even how they see themselves…

It is important to reflect for a moment…have I already written them off as a troublesome employee? Or is there the potential for a little bit of ‘gold’ somewhere there? Yes or No? If yes, am I truly making an effort to look for it….?

As Naomi Smith writes in her blog entitled “Before You Take Them Off The Bus…Consider This”, “the reality is though, that we will generally all be faced with a mixed bag of performance across our team.    A standard bell curve means that around 10% of our team will be low or non performers, 20% high performers and 70% somewhere in the middle.  These may be classified as the A, B & C categories with an objective to move the C’s out, and progress the B’s into A’s.” Before we move the C’s out, it is vital we reflect on a series of other important questions.

Other questions to ask

Once you can satisfy yourself, that mindset is not an issue – and becoming a self fulfilling prophecy, it important that you consider a range of questions. Described in more detail in her blog, Naomi Smith suggests reflecting on these questions:

1.   Does the employee really know what is expected of them?

2.   Does the employee have the skills and the tools to do the job? 

3.   Do they want to do the job?

4.   Could we have done something different with our hiring process?

5.   Did we on-board them effectively?

6.  Are my expectations too high?

7.  Have I given them specific feedback & coaching to help them achieve?

8.  Am I measuring, rewarding & recognising what I want most?

9.   Have I done everything I could have as their Leader?

10.   Are they having personal issues which are impacting their performance?

11.   Are they overwhelmed with everything they need to do?

12.   Are they the right person, but in the wrong position?”


How would you answer these questions? Have you done everything you can to help the gold shine through the rubble?
If yes, then it is time to move them on. You owe it to your A’s and B’s so they can have the best opportunity to shine!


Source : Click here to see the original LinkedIn blog post by Naomi Smith


DiA website members : if you’d like further information, click here to see some tips and hints on:

  • dealing with needy staff
  • how to have difficult conversations
  • holding people accountable
  • diagnosing poor performance ….etc

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