Keep the Best People in Your Team

Your role as a manager is to deliver the results you are responsible for, to develop and keep the best people. Even if the responsibility for the results is on you, you must surround yourself by the best employees and you must trust them.

best people

Start from the principle that nothing is mandatory, not even keeping your current job if you perform poorly. As a manager, you are compelled to make sure you develop and support your people to the highest extent.

But, it’s also your responsibility to get rid of (I know, it sounds awful, but also true) those that underperform or have a shitty attitude. Their results affect directly the performance of the whole team and implicitly your own results.

When judgment day comes and you are asked about results, I am sure you can hardly wait to say you did everything in your power, but this employee(s) under your administration were really not OK.

Wake up! The underperformers are your responsibility too.

You cannot take only the parts of the job you enjoy, the manager position comes along with a lot of responsibilities, some really unpleasant, unpopular decisions where there’s a fine line between rational and emotional.

“Uncle” Jack who used to run General Electric as CEO for twenty something years and had a turnover increase of over 4,000% said that 20% of its employees are super performers, 70% are ok-ish and the rest of 10% underperform and had to be let go. He did this “exercise” yearly.

If you accept to have losers on your team, don’t expect exceptional results. Yes, as a manager you should also fire people, and those left should grow better and better.

You should consider the change as an ongoing process that helps you adapt to a fast paced market. You personally should also be flexible about change, no matter how good (and modest) you are now, you cannot keep the same level of performance in the future by not doing anything.

The biggest challenge you’ll have is related to the subordinates that aren’t willing to change, to evolve. Don’t judge the ones that won’t or can’t do it, it’s their choice. If their performance affects you in a negative way, you shouldn’t allow this to develop or worse, to affect the results of the team.

People hate the management’s attitude towards the lack of performance and don’t understand (nor do they have to) why a poorly performing employee is tolerated. Moreover, the feeling of “dragging this person along” won’t ever bring anything good, you may even risk losing some very good employees for not making the right call.

The relatively smaller price of a TV compared to 20 years ago at an incomparable quality, is just an example of evolution and you should consider that us (humans) progress a lot from one year to another or from one generation to another.

Sitting tight without evolving and not “delivering” what was asked of you, it’s similar to repeating a school year. It’s obvious who has the bigger blame, but both parents and teachers have a huge responsibility in making the student succeed. It’s the same at work, where the manager’s support should be substantial.

Nonetheless, if only you stay seated and around you people evolve, you might be playing in the wrong “movie” and the next round of auditions you will be removed from the cast.

Lack of performance should be marked down, explained and corrected. You cannot say that someone is underperforming just based on a “hunch”. Luckily, the performance evaluation process is a continuous one, and those relying just on its formal aspects, once or twice per year, have a lot to lose, no matter on which side of the table you sit.

Nevertheless, if you reached the conclusion that an employee cannot “perform” under your command, doesn’t mean you get to fire how and whom you wish, just because you are the manager. For everyone’s sake, but especially for the organization’s, you must follow certain rules and get others approval. If it’s the right call, they will agree with you.

A rigorous performance management associated with an ongoing support to the employee through coaching, building clear (intermediate) objectives with strict follow-up, as well as a very efficient direct communication will help a lot with the change of the weak links.

Remember that sooner or later the underperformance from your team will affect you directly and you are in charge to take the corrective actions. You must do everything possible so the low performing employee reaches the desired level and if that doesn’t work, you must part ways.

I have written this especially for leaders, but it might seem useful for those caught in offside – a term used in soccer to determine a player who is outside the playing field, applicable sometimes for the coach.

Don’t even imagine that you can be a leader (coach) without your team to deliver and that you can continue this forever. No matter the name or the reputation, if you don’t have results permanently, you will leave eventually (either willingly or not). These are the rules of the game.

Good luck succeeding!

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