You Are Only as Good as Your Worst Employee

“You are only as good as your worst employee.” I heard this from one of the attendees during a recent seminar. I thought it was so appropriate. There are many shops out there that will never be as good as what the owner desires, because they continue to put up with underachievers or bad-attitude employees. Even though finding a replacement for this type of individual is a top concern for owners throughout the nation right now, these employees must be addressed.

• The first recommendation is to “Coach Your Underachievers.”

• The second recommendation is to “Get Rid of Them.”

Underachievers come in every shape, size, educational background and ethnic group. The only thing they have in common is that they are not living up to the potential that you are sure they possess or what the position requires. Below are a few suggestions to help you try and raise the standards for an underachiever:

Expect more from them. What you expect from people is often what you get. If you write off an underachiever, he is likely to live up to your low expectations. Underachievers need more, not less, responsibility.

Boost their self-esteem. Many underachievers desperately need acknowledgement and support. They especially need you to recognize their intelligence and professionalism. You need to “pump them up.”

Use cross-training. Train your underachiever to train someone else. This is a great morale-booster, and when people are responsible for training others, they will have to master the subject matter themselves. Caution: Don’t allow the underachiever to begin training others until you are certain the person has mastered the task.

Don’t be afraid to discipline the underachiever. Most of the time these people need discipline and structure. They need to know someone is watching. Sitting with this person on a regular basis and discussing the progress of their performance is absolutely critical. The first conversation needs to revisit the job description. Have it in writing and also have them sign the job description after they have reviewed it with you to confirm that they do understand what they are to be doing. Next, create a plan to help them achieve the expectations. Then you need to meet with them daily/weekly/monthly, whatever it takes, to have open discussion about their progress.

After you have followed the steps mentioned above and it is still not improving, it’s time to let this person go – NOW!