When I first became a Manager, I made the mistake of thinking that anyone could do any job if they had the right motivation and the right tools.  I invested a lot of time and energy in to trying to turn around all of the under-performers.  What I didn’t realize was that the opportunity cost of this was the time I wasn’t able to spend with the better performers.  They deserved my attention too and in fact, I later learned, the upswing in performance from supporting them far outweighed the upswing at the bottom.

I believe your duty as a Manager is to try to get the best out of everyone, full stop. This is not the same though as trying to get the best out of everyone in their current role.  This is an important distinction, because not everyone is in the best role for them.  Far from it. They may be in a job they don’t enjoy and therefore lack the motivation needed, or they may be in a job they are not suited to and simply don’t have the competence.

So, once you’ve set the best performers up to accomplish as much as they can, then turn to the under-performers and consider the best approach:



Firstly, do they have the competence to do the role?  If not, are the gaps things which are train-able (knowledge, skills, experience) or are the issues things which are simply too far removed from what their strengths are to be worth working on? If the gaps are unbridgeable, then what are their strengths and what can you do to help them in to a role (inside or outside the organisation) which will play to their strengths and to allow them to flourish?

Not everyone can excel at every role, but everyone can excel at some role.  If you need to move them on, then your job then is to help them find out what their role should be.



Secondly, if they have the skills (or are developing the right skills) are they motivated and engaged?  We know the correlation between engagement and performance is strongly positive, so what can we do to understand where they are at right now, and how can we help them to tailor the role so that they can enjoy it and bring more to it?

Understanding what motivates another person is not easy.  As a place to start, my suggestion is to just ask.  Start a conversation about what they really want from their working day and their working lives and you will probably pick up far more information than you think.

Again, if you work with them to help them tailor their role so they can be more motivated by it, then this will have a significant impact.

If they can’t develop the skills required or if you can’t find away to make the role motivational for them, then I would say that you have a duty of care to help them find another role which they can enjoy more, work harder at and achieve more in be it inside or outside the organisation.  Call time on trying to fit that square peg in to a round hole.


Click on this link if you want to manage the keepers more effectively

If you want a quick framework to help consider what motivates a member of staff then click on this link

Click on this link if you want a framework to talk through Strengths with a member of staff