Poor contributor performance can happen. In fact, it happens all too often. No matter the source, whether personal stressors or a lack of passion, there are many ways a leader can assess and manage these situations.
Option #1: Fire The Poor Performer
Unfortunately, many organizations have zero tolerance for errors. There is obviously always a spectrum of severity of these errors, and whether they’re truly unforced or not, but this isn’t the way to build a strong culture over time. Since errors happen frequently, this type of model breeds a high turnover rate, which almost always reduces down to a constant scraping of the bottom of the talent barrel.
Option #2: Reassign the Work or the Worker
Another popular route to take after mistakes are made is to distribute the damage to other areas. This is akin to pushing a puddle of water around the room. If there is no absorption involved in this action, all you’re doing is making other areas of the floor wet. While this might look like it mitigated risk at the time, this is also not an ideal path to take. For obvious reasons, this can push problems into other areas and potentially create MORE issues, albeit less severe, in other parts of the company.
Option #3: Coach Through It
What I love most about quality leadership is the selfless act of always taking ownership of mistakes. A good leader is aware they are in charge. Being in charge means that, no matter the circumstance, the leader should have plenty of questions to answer. True leadership assesses the facts of the situation and traces the steps back to them.
- Did we train this individual enough?
- Did we express enough confidence in their abilities?
- Did we hire ineffectively?
- Did we assign responsibilities ineffectively?
A strong company culture is a trusting organization that believes in the growth of its contributors. Leaders that are able to embody patience and a willingness to coach through mistakes in order to garner long-term relationships are those that the best talent will want to work with. This type of learned culture promotes trust and instills in each contributor a confidence that supplants any and all sources of inability.
Needless to say, go with option #3.