I Just Wish They’d … Seven Keys to Helping Mediocre Performers

Frustration

Why can’t people just get their job done?

Why is it so hard?

Why are some people so difficult?

Do any of these sound familiar? Most of us have asked these questions (or similar ones) many times.

Regardless of our role – as a leader or a team member – we’ve all worked with people whose performance is . . . well . . . less than we wish it would be. These people are not real performance problems, but they don’t perform like stars either. They always seem to do just enough to get by – they never stand out positively or negatively. Yet, on the whole, the performance is definitely less than is desirable.

I believe there are at least seven keys to helping these team members change their performance.

The Seven Keys

The right attitude. First things first. If you are thinking about someone as “a slacker” or as someone who is not really pulling his or her weight or just generally not being a great performer, then how likely are you to really see chances for them to improve? Too often our attitude about someone spirals downward leaving us no mental way to see the other keys you are about to read. We have to remember – and believe – there is a difference between the person and the performance. Keep your focus on people’s performance. It is fine to label performance as less than valuable, but when we label people that way we leave ourselves little mental space to help them.

The right role. Have you ever had someone try to change you? How much did you resist those efforts? Ultimately, how successful were they? When you remember these experiences you’ll quickly learn that to help others change their performance we have to keep our role clear. Whether we are a supervisor or a peer, our role needs to be one of helping and assisting, not pushing or demanding. This mindset from the start is critical.

The right work. Sometimes people aren’t performing at their best because they aren’t doing the work that is best suited for them. Sure, people were hired to do a specific job, but we can help them craft their job to focus on things they are naturally better at – or find other ways to give them chances to utilize their talents more effectively. As a fellow team member that may look like shifting responsibilities around a bit. As a supervisor, a more drastic measure might be placing someone in a new job with responsibilities that better match their talents.

The right purpose. We all are motivated by doing things that we see have a greater purpose. Too often people are given tasks or a job but they can’t see the value or purpose in their work. Help people see a bigger picture of how their work fits into the overall picture, and you might be surprised at the change in their performance.

The right expectations. People tend to rise and fall to the level of our expectations – and these aren’t just the things we say, but also the things we believe. Reflect on your beliefs about this person’s performance and what you think is possible for them. Once you raise your expectations and sights, theirs may begin to shift upward as well.

The right support. Have you ever been given a task without a lot of training or support? Have you ever wished you would have gotten that support? Guess what? Sometimes people are performing to the level of their understanding and skills. Once you put some of these other keys in place, help people think about what additional skills or help they need. It might be a small insight or one new skill that makes all the difference in the world.

The right passion. That’s right, passion. We can’t give people a passion for their work, but when we apply the other six keys and help people in those ways don’t be surprised if their passion has been ignited (or re-ignited) for their work. Maybe a full fledged flame won’t ensue. But considering where this person’s performance started, wouldn’t you be pleased with a flickering flame?

One More Thing

All of these keys are things that you can do. You can’t change a person’s performance by brute strength or force of will. But you can, regardless of your position, find ways to help the person improve performance on their own.

In the end then, the biggest key is to recognize what we can do to help and provide that help. We’ll be happier and more productive, and chances are so will the other person.

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing Your Potential go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/uypw/index.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.

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