The Cost of a Mediocre Employee

Categories Leadership, Management Articles, Team Building

Estimated Reading Time 3 1/2 Minutes

We’ve all done it right?  We allowed someone to stay on the team because they either weren’t a problem or because they were a “nice person”.  We had “bigger fish to fry” and we figured they weren’t really hurting anything even though they were at or just below the minimum acceptable level of performance and contribution.

Unfortunately, we don’t really think about this as a decision we’ve made.  Not choosing to act on something that isn’t really helping you and your team hit its goals, is actually a choice.  Like all decisions and choices you make as a manager, this one deserves thoughtful consideration and a strong response.  Let’s consider the costs associated with a mediocre employee.

What’s the Impact on the Other Team Members?

Every member of your team made a decision at some point to join you.  Maybe they were already on the team when you were chosen to lead it, but even then they decided whether to stay and be led by you.

Make no mistake about it, the best and most productive people on your team are constantly evaluating their choice to be on your team.  They are energized when they are a part of an “all-star” team.  When they look around and see people who aren’t motivated to improve, they begin to question whether they should find a stronger team.

What’s the Impact on Your Company?

As the manager, you have been empowered to take the company’s resources and apply them towards achieving the maximum result possible.  One of those resources is the designated payroll which translates into “headcount”.   You get to put a certain number of bodies on the field.  If any of those are not superstars, or at least moving in that direction, you are going to limit the return the company will get on it’s resources.

What’s the Impact on Your Customers?

You likely have two types of customers; external and internal.  Your external customers are the people who buy from your company.  Part of the buying experience likely involves your team’s efforts.  When the buying experience is less than outstanding, the customer is at risk of  finding a competitor that will provide a superior experience.

Your internal customers are the other departments and strategic business partners who interact with your team in order to provide the products and services your external customers buy.  When they encounter one of your team members, how are they going to feel about your team?

What’s the Impact on You?

Finally, you need to consider that the results you will get as a manager will be reflective of the actions you take on a regular basis.  You take these actions mostly out of habit.  When you allow a mediocre employee to stay on the team, you are developing a habit.  Be careful about the subtle habits that can begin to develop.  They will be hard to break down the road.  Decide to have a team of superstars and guard that decision vigilantly.

Also remember that your most limited resource is your time.  It takes just as much, if not more time, to coach a “B” player.  If you make sure your team is full of “A” players, you will be spending your time optimally.

Transformational Exercise

Today is a good day to evaluate your roster.  Who is that mediocre employee?  Are you going to be able to move them to an “A Player” through coaching?  If not, think about the cost of keeping them and decide if you want to do that.

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