Management November 24, 2009 Last updated February 6th, 2010 4,188 Reads share

Rewarding poor performers – are you guilty?

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This morning at a Networking Event which I had organised in aid of Childline one of the presenters, Shane Twomey, a fellow HR consultant, threw out a question that really made me think! ” How do you reward poor performers“.  Initially he was met with stunned silence.  You could almost hear people thinking…”what on earth is he talking about…who would reward poor performance?”.  But then the penny dropped.

I must admit that despite being a seasoned HR professional I had never really thought about the issue of under performance in quite this way.  Of course I have expereinced it.  And had to deal with it.  And even had to deal with managers who didn’t deal with it.  But I had never thought about it in terms of “reward“.  But of couse we do.  How?  Well let’s look at what typically happens to poor performers in an organisation:

  • You / their manager ignores them
  • They are given less work
  • Less is expected of them so they have lower targets / performance standards
  • They are paid the same or similar pay to average and even high performers
  • They are promoted (so they can become someone else’s problem)
  • They get a salary increase (well they haven’t been told there is a problem with performance so they have to get it)
  • More time is spent on them, dealing with issues and correcting problems
  • Others are asked to help them complete their work
  • They are given overtime to allow them to complete tasks
  • They are not asked to do any additional work
  • They are regularly sent on training courses (well they aren’t doing much else)

Of couse at the same time you are punishing your high performers.  Typically they will:

  • Be expected to work harder and faster
  • Get the same or similar salary to poor performers
  • Get less training because they are too valuable to release
  • Get less of the managers time and therefore less coaching and mentoring
  • Be given all additional work
  • Have higher targets and standards

The list goes on!  And what does that poor performer think about his higher performing colleagues?  Well he probably thinks they are fools and secretly laughs about them.  And what do they think about themselves.  Eventually they will begin to see themselves as fools too.  They will get tired of always having more work, always having to pick up the slack because their co-workers aren’t up to standard and never seeing any reward.  And honestly, even if they are being rewarded they will eventually become demotivated when they look at their poor perfoming colleagues who can just do as they please, never have a heavy workload and can just amble along, stress-free.

So are you guilty of rewarding your poor performers? If so, it is time you took action – NOW!

Jackie Prendergast

Jackie Prendergast

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