How to Deal with Underperformers

It’s pretty much the norm that about 10% of your employees will always fall into the “underperformers” camp, so, if you are tired of the headaches they routinely cause, here are the only two ways you can remedy the situation:

  1. Increase accountability while simultaneously reducing your tolerance level. Specifically, make everyone accountable for their own performance, starting with you. You are the one who hired the underperformer and you are the one letting it slide. How can you possibly hold others accountable if you don’t hold yourself to the same standard? Then make sure your expectations are clearly understood by all employees and never put up with mediocrity.The #1 reason employers do tolerate mediocrity is because they don’t have any bench strength (someone lined up who could immediately replace the person who is undermining the team’s performance). The #1 reason employers don’t have bench strength is because they don’t make recruiting a 24/7 priority. C’mon. Do you want to succeed or not?
  2. Raise your hiring standards across the board. No more hiring the first warm body that walks in the door because you needed someone yesterday. No more hiring unqualified friends of friends. No more hiring based on personal biases. (“We went to the same school.”) No more hiring decisions made solely on the basis of a seat-of-the-pants interview and your gut feel.

Insist on telephone pre-screens, capacities, skills, and attitude testing. Position applicants to tell you the truth and use a standardized interview question set so you can compare apples to apples. And always check references.

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Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.

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