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What to Do with Lagging Performers

Manager Focus: Educate!


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C-Players are Average. Is That Good Enough? You Decide

C-Players. All organizations have them. The question is how much of your time or your team’s time is spent picking up the work of C-Players?   
Often times, C-Players aren’t even aware that their performance, attitude or maintenance related behavior is standing in the way of them being successful.  The core responsibilities of a manager include helping team members be successful, removing obstacles, motivating, educating, and inspiring team members and teams. 
C-Players need to be educated on what is expected from them and provided with specific guidance on what improvements need to be made—and by when.
C-Players usually need guidance on how to improve as well.

Meet with the Team Member

These are lagging performers whose current score is in the C range. They are in need of some extra coaching. Monitor these team members closely to understand what is standing in the way of their success.

Conversation Starters:

  • What is standing in the way of your success?

  • What are the biggest challenges you are facing?

  • How can I help or support you better?

  • You have the potential to be steady performer, so what are some things that you can focus on to jumpstart improvement?

  • I am confident in your potential!

  • It starts with you.


Meet with Your Team Member to Set Clear Expectations

Approach the conversation by setting Expectations Around Performance, Attitude, and Maintenance related behaviors:
  • It's crucial that your team member understand how you see them and why you see them as a C.
  • C-Players frequently don't see themselves as average or ordinary. It's important for them to understand why you see them that way.
  • Avoid confrontational language. Frame the feedback using subjective language
    • "I see your performance as_________________"
    • "In my opinion..."
    • "From my perspective..." 

Where Can the Team Member Improve? Find Specifics

Now that you've opened the conversation, here are some discussion topics to consider:
  • Identify the area they have the most potential upside
  • It helps to put the team member into exact situations where you see the need/opportunity for improvement:
    • "Last week when you were working on..."
    • "There are three things I am expecting..."
    • "The core of our approach always includes this one thing..."
    • "When you are _______________, I would like to see you do these two things...."
  • Help the team member see negative areas to avoid:
    • "One thing I don't ever want to see is..."
    • "We don't ever want to..."
    • "Avoiding these two things will help you improve..."

Ask What Barriers the Team Member is Facing:

  • This requires a large measure of good judgement on your part. Respect laws and the right to privacy 
  • Based on the strength--or weakness--of your relationship you have with the team member you may or may not want to ask the team member if there is anything on their mind, in their personal life, in their work space that they feel is having a negative impact on their performance, attitude, or maintenance

Ask How You Can Help Them Grow:

  • Don't presume you have all the answers. This is a great way to open a conversation
  • The key is for the team member to sense you are sincere. You can't technique this. If you don't believe it, don't do it
  • This isn't done as a simple checklist
  • The spirit here is being open and not having all the answers. The power in this step lies in listening without the need to respond. Just listen. The team member will sense both your full attention and your openness

Develop A Plan with the Team Member to improve deficiencies:

  • Make sure the team member contributes the bulk of this plan
  • Avoid simply creating a plan and giving it to the team member
  • Aspire to the team member to have ownership of the plan
    • The only way to do that is to get full participation from the team member
  • Guide the team member if the steps they outline are off-course or inappropriate
  • Your role should be to help set direction and boundaries. Encourage the team member to identify the necessary action steps

Set Deadlines for Improvement

  • Let's be clear, not all C-players have the potential to become B-players
  • If you have identified a C-player with B-potential then you want to give that team member a realistic, target date for improvement
  • Avoid unrealistic targets. These will only lead to frustration for you and the team member. Get buy-in from the team member on the target date

Multiethnic group of happy business people working together in office

Monitor Their Success

  • It's important that the team member believes that you trust in the plan.
  • Only by paying consistent attention to this plan and this team member can you expect the team member to do the same.
  • Based on your culture, your time demands, and your targets, schedule short meetings to monitor success and discuss adjustments to the improvement plan
  • In each meeting discuss what should happen next and where the team member should focus his or her energy and attention

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Instill Confidence in Team Member 

  • This starts with you genuinely believing in them as their manager
  • Don't try this with an team member that you don't think can improve
  • Only express this with team members you genuinely believe have the capacity to move from C to C+ or C to B, or even C to A

Express Expectations 

  • People tend to rise to the genuine expectations they sense others have for them
  • Share with the team member why their success is your success.
  • You are in this together

Synchronize for Success 

  • Match team member tasks to their skill sets
  • Put team member in more situations to experience success
  • Leverage success to underscore importance of expanding skill set

Your Objective: Grow C-Players into B-Players

Sometimes C-players merely fill a role and sometimes that's enough.

But a C-player with potential to do more and be more will never be fully satisfied or motivated with remaining a C-player.

Properly educated on the correct steps to take and an improvement path to follow, a C-player can grow into a B-player or even more and give your organization much more than merely someone filling a role.

It's worth the effort to invest time in a C-player who you think has the capacity to grow.

Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.
John D. Rockefeller
The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.
Colin Powell
U.S. General and Statesman
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.
Soccer Legend

Share your success story

We are always looking for success stories to share. Tell us an approach or technique that you have used to help one of your team members grow and succeed and we'll share it here. 

Send us an email with your success story. Send it to success@truvelop.com.

We look forward to hearing--and sharing--your success story.


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