Motivating the Poor and Low Performer!

SERIES: Part Four of a Five-Part Article

Executive Summary:  How a leader can tactically engage the poor or low performer to refocus their energies for increased organizational contribution

“Where do poor performers and low performers exist, and how can a leader tactically engage them to refocus their energies and become contributors to the organization once again?”

As noted in the classic strategic business book, GOOD TO GREAT (©2002) by Jim Collins, a large portion of business success in the new world economy is who is on your team. In essence, it is “Getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and then getting the people on the bus in the right position.” It may be time to find a dignified way to remove the poor or low performer from your team immediately!

In motivating the poor and low performer, consider the following tactical ideas as a leader of influence:

  1. Relentless Pursuit of Positive – Continually maintain a positive point of reference when engaging this player and only accept positive, forward-moving solutions to any situation, problem or obstacle they raise.
  1. Set Them up for Success – Recognize this player’s core skill set and set them up with a daily task that plays to their strength. Most individuals experience accomplishment when they do things they are good. Accomplishments trigger a person’s mind victory. This feeds higher self- esteem, greater enthusiasm, higher levels of passion and greater motivation!
  1. Surround Sound System – Ensure that the environmental noises, team associations, individual interactions and assigned tasks continually reflect only positive images and experiences in the work domain.
  1. Drown Out the Old – Realize that one of the things that feeds low and poor performers is one’s ability to replay passive-aggressive whiner comments like, “We can’t do that here,” or, “You can’t do that,” or, “That will never work.” Whenever anyone engages in negative diatribe, politely insist on a viable option with detailed explanations.
  1. Celebrate Accomplishments – Even the smallest accomplishment should be celebrated. Many times, what has fed the low and poor performer’s mindset is a belief that they are not appreciated, respected or valued inside the team. Everyone needs a little encouragement. By celebrating small and large accomplishments of an individual or team, this excites and energizes everyone!
  1. Demand Alternatives – Every time individuals say something won’t work or is a bad idea, don’t defend yourself or challenge them. Instead, demand that they offer a viable alternative. Politely engage them from a firm perspective that conveys the message of put up or shut up!

You might use a sentence such as, “If this idea won’t work, what do feel would be some alternative options?”

  1. Reposition Task-Player Connection – You may have a great personnel asset in the low or poor performer, it is just that the person in question has evolved into a position for which they are not prepared, trained, skilled or competent. Either provide the player with the necessary skill development to succeed, evaluate a better position for them on the team or reassign the task that is feeding their negative disposition to a more qualified player on your team.

As a leader, engaging the low and poor performer with some of these tactical engagement approaches can recondition them to be more proactive. As noted in YIELD MANAGEMENT (©1999 by Jeff Magee), there are a host of tactical approaches one can deploy to get “good people on your bus, potential low performers back in alignment and bad people off the bus.” In many cases, individuals morph into low and poor performance standards as a result of early improper engagement by managerial-leaders. Studies reveal that individuals need three primary organizational guideposts to thrive:

  1. Structure
  2. Nurture
  3. Discipline

Recognize that when managers or leaders begin evading or eliminating these three guideposts, the endpoint typically is destructive. By following this three-step template, you can craft appropriate behaviors for success and work to convert a low and poor performer back into a constructive positive performer.

Dr Jeff Magee
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