Managers: Stop spending 70% of Your Time Doing This

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Managers: stop spending 70% of your time managing your lowest performers.  Stop spending your time emailing answers to questions already asked, explaining procedures already explained, and training in areas already trained.  Stop using your day to document low performance, to referee conflicts, or to boost low morale.

In his book, 100 Ways to Motivate Others, Steve Chandler estimates that up to 70% of a manager’s day is spent on low performers. Chandler has over twenty years of experience working with business professionals and is the author of over 30 personal growth titles.  This shockingly high percentage is time that most managers simply do not have to spend.

Impact of a Low Performer

A low performer is an employee who does a job to the bare minimum. He or she may be absent frequently, complain about management, and generally exhibit low morale.  Over time, this negativity has an impact.  It can affect the performance of all other employees, even a company’s highest performers.  When a high performer sees a low performer getting all of a manager’s attention, it can be difficult: “For one thing, when you as a manager spend all your time focusing on weak performers, strong performers begin to wonder why you’re not checking on them” (Paley, the ladders.com).

A low performer can affect employee morale by complaining.  Complaining is often the way a low performer will cover up his/her weaknesses.  They may say something like, “If the company would only train us in this, we’d know what to do,” or “I can’t believe our manager didn’t tell us how to do this.”  Having this kind of victim mentality can rub off on other employees.

Managers Want to Help, but to what Extent?

Managers invest in those they manage, and it is satisfying to watch employees grow.  Alex Paley of Glu Mobile states: “If an employee is underperforming, we naturally want to invest resources into helping that person develop—but sometimes, that investment can eat a disproportionate amount of our own time and energy” (the ladders.com).  So, to what extent should managers invest their time?  Just when should a manager decide that he or she is spending TOO much time on lowest performers?

The answer lies in the reason an employee is underperforming.  If an employee is underperforming due to low ability, lack of effort, or lack of improvement over time, he/she may be poorly matched to the position (MindTools).  In this case, a manager must communicate clearly and often about what is expected versus the performance or growth resulting.  Coming up with a performance improvement plan with consequences is a way to put these discussions in black and white. A good platform to consider for automated performance review is emPerform software.   If a low performer does not respond to these interventions, it may be time to move on.

Managers: Control Your Own Time

Managers need to take charge over their limited time.  Lowest performers may send multiple emails in any given day, and a manager has every right to put limits on communication or create a flow chart for workers of where to go to with certain types of questions.  Encourage a low performer to try to solve problems on his/her own.

Managers want to hire employees who can work independently and take initiative.  A business always seeks to hire high achievers who can add to the momentum with innovative ideas.  These are the employees that managers should spend time developing.

Steve Chandler recommends companies hire based on candidates’ desire to succeed, not just because they’re qualified to do the job. The people who want to excel or strive to become the best turn out to be better performers. It’s certainly logical to pursue candidates that are qualified.  But if you want your company/department to grow, this attribute should be something to consider in interviewing.

Artemis Consultants offers expert advice on how to interview and hire high-performing employees.  Please visit our website for a full list of services.

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