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Jan 16, 2014

Allowing poor performers to remain on the payroll is a form of dishonesty that harms the entire organization.

Yet managers claim giving poor performers negative feedback either to help them improve or to warn them of the consequences of not making changes is one of the toughest conversations they face. As a result, those conversations often don’t happen.

But, here are five good reasons to motivate yourself to have those conversations — even if they feel uncomfortable.

#1: Poor performers learn not to trust you

Continuing to pat the poor performer on the back and grant them raises does not square with their own reality. They know their work does not meet standards and does not match what their colleagues do.

If you don’t tell the truth about how they perform, how can they trust you to tell them the truth about other things?

#2: Good performers will grow to distrust you

Other employees know which ones aren’t pulling their own weight.

When they’re all treated the same and receive the same feedback despite the refrain “we reward people based on performance,” the good performers discount other promises as well. Trust dips even lower — their trust in you and their trust in the organization and its leaders as a whole.

#3: Your stress will grow and may turn to anger

As the manager of a poor performer, you will inevitably grow more and more stressed by the problem the incompetence creates.

Just like a bruise that won’t heal, the poor performer will hold you back from peak performance on every new project. And, stress often turns to anger.

#4: Poor performers will consider you unfair and spread the word

If you fail to communicate the hard truth all along the way (and the poor performer for some reason lacks that self-awareness), and you get to the proverbial “end of your rope” and must terminate the performer’s employment, he or she will be shocked and dismayed.

In fact, the employee may be so disgruntled as to think the dismissal is unfair. Neither should you be shocked that he shares the fact that you gave “no warning that his work was a problem” with everyone on his way out the door.

And that leads to reason #5 …

#5: Building a case backward is the wrong way to go

Far too many managers wait until the “boiling point” — until the incompetent employee has the entire department in a dither and they are at the point of dismissing that employee from the job.

Then they realize that there have been no discussions and no documentation.

So it’s back to square one with a goal to “build a case” to substantiate the poor performance for legal reasons. At this point, the attitude for change and improvement is all wrong — usually for both parties.

These are five good reasons to communicate your truth and expectation for change — early, often, and clearly.

This was originally published on Dianna Booher’s Booher Banter blog.

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