Why your worst performer is a gift

3rd April 2012

It's inevitable: in any team-based environment, there will always be someone who's at the bottom of the pile. As an employee, it's difficult not to resent a co-worker who's not measuring up. As an employer, a poor performer can drain away time and attention that would be better spent on improving everyone else's performance. But before you suggest that the bad performer find another career, consider using him or her as a way to shine a light on your organisation.

Bad performers don't just sprout out of nowhere. Even if a worker is innately incompetent, he or she still got hired in the first place. So review your hiring process. Was there a warning sign about the bad performer that the recruiters missed, and can they be reminded to watch for it in the future? Are there flaws in your training programme or employee motivation that could lead to other employees going down the same road as the bad performer?

A bad performer can also help you improve your work processes. A well-run workplace shouldn't go to pieces just because one person isn't doing his or her job well enough. So look for ways to ensure that your workers support and monitor each other to reduce the impact of poorly done work.

Part of effective business leadership is knowing how to deal with employees who don't work up to the desired level. Don't allow yourself to be overly distracted by the bad performer's needs. Instead, pay attention to what the bad performer's presence says about you and your company, and the result will be a more efficiently run organisation.

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