Management Tip – Measure Success by Your Worst Employees

In Being a Great Boss by Jason Cortel

I’m doing a series of blog entries on being a great boss. The series will include management tips that are fundamental for the success of new managers starting out and more seasoned managers that are always working to improve their skills.

The first topic in this series is about measuring your professional success by your worst employees. You are probably thinking that the measure of success would be based on your best employees and top performers. Here is a break out of why I feel that shouldn’t be your measure of success:

Worst Performer:

  • Not living up to their potential
    • You see their potential but you haven’t found the right way to manage/coach them into seeing it for themselves
  • The worst employee(s) work effort is hurting your ability to achieve your goals and results
    • If your top performers cannot make up for the worst performers inability to deliver your success will be effected
  • Keeping your worst employees around demonstrates your acceptable level of tolerance of performance

The last point is critical. What you expect from people is often what you get. By accepting this lower level of performance you may cause your top performers to become demotivated and it also causes them undue stress and frustration as they have pick up the slack. If you aren’t careful your other staff may strive to lower themselves to this level.

Top Performers:

  • During the hiring process you should
    • Select the candidate that is smarter than you
    • Select someone with a proven track record of success in the areas critical to the role
    • Select someone who will complement the strengths and weaknesses of your current team
    • Select someone that will help you take your team to the next level
  • Top performers typically already have a high level of ability to do the job
  • Great employees are naturally driven to achieve success in their career

Think about yourself when evaluating your top performers. You were more than likely hired because of your past successes, skills and knowledge, the list is endless. Also, your own ability to do the job as well as how driven you are to achieve success. That comes from inside of you and is not always a reflection of your boss.

Sure when you started out in your career you probably had bosses that helped guide you down the path of success but it started with your internal drive. My favorite saying is “you can’t make anyone anything”. They have to want it, they have to be committed and they have to put in the effort.

Management tip: you should regularly review the  bottom 10 percent of your staff. When reviewing their performance consider the following:

  1. Are they coachable in the areas they are lacking
  2. Do they lack commitment to the job
  3. Do their behaviors foster an environment of high-energy to acheive results
  4. Do they work cooperatively and professionally with the other team members

Obviously points 1,3 and 4 are something you can manage and coach an employee towards improving. Point number 2 however is not something you can fix. If you identify point number 2 in your list of gaps the employee has you either should either release them or suspend them. If you choose the latter I suggest you have a conversation with them about their level of commitment and give them some time off to think about how they may be able to better demonstrate their desire to achieve success on your team.

There are endless ways to being a successful manager. In my opinion measuring your success based on your worst performers should be at the top or very high up on your list.

-Jason Cortel

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Jason Cortel

Jason Cortel

Call Center Manager
An accomplished sales and marketing operations executive in demand generation, client services and technical support industries. Jason has proven leadership, strategic planning, and problem solving skills. He is recognized for having the ability to develop client-focused organizational cultures resulting in significantly higher customer satisfaction and retention.
Jason CortelManagement Tip – Measure Success by Your Worst Employees