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Most leaders will have one or two members on the team that are considered low performers or who have negative attitudes. As a great leader, you need to know how to turn around your bottom performers.
If the leader isn’t self-aware, he or she might tend to always focus on the negatives, which will cause a negative environment for everyone. Or, the leader might ignore the lower performers which can cause resentment in the other team members.
A much better approach would be to improve the performance of the bottom performers and here are three tips to help.
# 1 – Positive Feedback
Try to catch them doing something right and offer some positive feedback.
In one of our training sessions, we challenged the participants to catch their worst performing employee doing something right and tell them about it. One woman from the class took three weeks in between sessions to finally see her bottom performer doing something right.
She approached him and said, “Thanks for cleaning up your work area, it really makes a big difference.”
The reaction she got was a grunt. However, after that exchange, his behavior started to turn around. He went from being a person with marginal productivity, always negative in company meetings and never willing to lift a finger to help anybody; to actually being positive, hitting his daily production targets and helping out his co-workers when they struggled.
Offering sincere, positive feedback can be powerful.
# 2 – Corrective Feedback
“I’m going to take some time today and work with you and I’ll retrain you on the job you’re doing, alright? I don’t mind doing that as long as I have your commitment that you’re going to stick with it until you’re successful”.
Apply a corrective feedback strategy which requires a progressive discipline plan to achieve the desired outcome.
Unfortunately, if the behavior or performance is unacceptable you’re going to have to apply progressive discipline.
#3 – Stop Ignoring Your Bottom Performer
It is important to avoid ignoring the bottom performer. You should try to keep them in the loop, asking them for their input, seeing if you can turn the situation around by staying positive. Of course, if the team member doesn’t improve their behavior or performance to acceptable levels, it might be necessary to terminate, in which case having all the proper documentation is crucial.
Your job as leader is to set the expectation and apply the consequences. Ultimately the team member is responsible and accountable for his or her behavior.
Hopefully, you don’t have many bottom performers. If you do, apply these concepts, and watch the results. You will be a more effective leader.
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