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The latest piece of gossip in the HR world this week touched on “damaged” employees.  A call goes out around the corporation, asking for all-hands on deck. …”send me your best people, ASAP.”  Departments start assessing their teams and ask the question, “How many of these employees are damaged?”  Teams can’t risk sending poor performers or those that suck.  No one wants their reputation on the line and no one wants to hear complaints.

So what is a manager to do?

First, you are way too negative.  Stop referring to the poor performers as “damaged.”  As a manager, you may have strong feelings about those employees that seem to be a drag on the team.  Ok, fine.  But if you’re feeling the negativity, so is the rest of your team.  Your reaction, your tone, your facial expressions are causing all kinds of crazy and you’re not even aware of it.  If you have poor performers on your team, your negative reaction could be to blame.  Stop reacting, stop the sarcasm, and do something about it.

Second, if all you’re doing is reacting, let’s find something else to do.  Poor performers usually need more direction and more interaction with their team.  Are you building up your team or just walking around like Greg House, MD? Find out what makes these employees tick. What drives them?  What are they lacking?  Have a conversation.

Third, if you haven’t had these conversations, I’d really like to know more about your performance review process.  How often do you review your employees?  A best practice is to converse regularly with your team and provide consistent feedback, while measuring against attainable goals.  So, if you’re lacking in the area of performance management, well, no wonder your team sucks.

And finally, I do realize that yes, there are employees who just need to go.  They’re not the right fit and no matter what, there’s no room for improvement.  So why are you putting them on a performance improvement plan (PIP)?  PIPs are for those employees that can turn things around…that have the ability to make improvements.  If there’s no chance of improvement and you’ve had several documented conversations, then it’s time to take action and move towards separation (of course, follow your HR policy).

If you are supposed to be leading a team, LEAD.  Your example is the best place to start, followed by conversation and building rapport.  But if you refer to your employees as “damaged,” well, sounds like you’ve got some work to do yourself.

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