I have a firm, fundamental belief that people come to work everyday to be great. The core inside of every person is that they want to be their best and add value to the team. No one wants to do a bad job at anything. But sometimes, your team members are underperforming their peers. You’re expecting me to say that you should cut the weakest links so that you rise the tide of performance? Nope.

Frustrated man with hands on face

When I have an underperforming employee, I first start with an understanding of all the tasks and roles that they perform. This is where it helps to have data on your entire organization, to see where your underperforming employee ranks relative to his or her peers on every task or role performed.

Don’t just look at what you know they aren’t good at. If you are looking for biased data, you will find it.

Look at the entirety of what they do and see where they rank. More often than not, I’ve uncovered that my underperformer is actually the best in the business at a few tasks. Armed with this information, I am able to start a productive and healthy conversation with that employee on why they are so good at those tasks.

Hand with marker writing the text Be An Active Listener

You’re likely to find out that those tasks relate to a previous job they had, or a hobby they do on the weekends, or simply that they like to do those tasks (go figure!). Now the employee can’t be blanketed as an “underperformer,” and you can see some hope for keeping them around.

When you understand what makes an employee tick, you'll be able to better see where there is a fit for them in the organization. Don't be afraid to engage them in this conversation. Employees know where they work best, and you have to trust that they want to bring their best selves to work everyday.