The Tough Case: Dealing with Underperformance

Each week I send out a recognition tip to thousands of subscribers. One of the weekly tips subscribers receive from me deals with underperformance. It says:

Do you have someone on your team whose attitude makes you want to scream? Who does barely enough to get by? Who blames everyone else for his or her mistakes or under-performance? Trying recognizing him or her! Seriously, find something that you can sincerely recognize. Keep looking. Do it again and again.

To quote a manager who did this [with regular recognition], “The difference was phenomenal.”

In response to receiving this tip, a reader sent the following email:

I did use this tip with one of my employees and it worked wonders. This was an employee who rarely spoke to anyone and when she did, she found fault in everything.

Instead of telling her her attitude was horrible (I thought it was), I stopped to speak with her every day and just talked for a minute. I asked about her family and mentioned where her work was improving.

She is now a more positive person. She holds small conversations with her peers and seems to really want to come to work. She has even become my top performer!

One minute a day took this employee from poor attitude to top performer. Seems to me that is an ROI that any manager would love!

Remember, underperformance really can be managed with recognition.


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