Schedule a Free Consultation

Crack Open the Door

Crack Open the Door

By: Ross Paterson

Underperforming Employees – Part 2 (In case you missed it, read Part 1 here.)


As we troubleshoot performance problems with our clients, we hold these truths to be self-evident:

1. At least 50% of the problem is a leadership problem

Uninspired Vision + Lack of Clarity = Poor Performance

2. Written documents are needed for clarity, coaching, and accountability

3. Tough decisions are easy when we have the right information

Step 1: MAKE AN ASSESSMENT. If there is no vision, no plan, no job description, and no feedback, changing your line up will not fix the problem. Another frequent scenario is the declining results of a formerly solid performer.  In this case check first for background issues that may be driving the poor results. It is foolish to beat up a team member for performance when they are dealing with a personal crisis (family, health, relationships, addiction, etc.). Make short term adjustments and coach them towards the help they need.

Step 2: CRACK OPEN THE DOOR. As a small business grows and evolves, the people who were right for the team during start-up, may not be as engaged or capable in the next phases. Rarely will an employee make a decision to leave on their own.  Take a Friday lunch with your underperformer, and thank them for their early contributions.  Clearly share vision about what is next, assure them that you won’t be going back to the way things were. Then, let them know it’s okay if they are not excited about what is next. If they need to go do something else somewhere else, you want them to be free to make a move. Ask them to think about it over the weekend and get back to you on Monday.

More than half the time we have given this advice, the mismatch becomes obvious and the employee begins their search for new opportunities. A leadership win from our perspective.

But what if they don’t? Read about Steps 3 and 4 in the next post.

Up next: Underperforming Employees – Part 3