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Summary: All leaders must eventually deal with poor performers. The author describes a method to help poor performers become good performers. It is based on developing and executing a 90-Day Improvement Plan.
A Leadership Screw Driver: The 90 Day Improvement Plan by Brent Filson
I was talking with first-line supervisors in a utility company about how to deal with poor performing employees.
"You've gotta put screws to him!" suggested one supervisor to his colleague who was having trouble managing one particular poor performer.
"I've put so many screws to him he's dead weight!" supervisor replied.
We all knew what "putting screws to him" meant -- using rewards and punishments to force change in behavior.
The trouble is, rewards and punishments are least effective ways of dealing with poor performers. That's because poor performers are usually smart, motivated, and tenacious -- when it comes to poor performing.
To change behavior of poor performers, avoid outside-in approach of rewards and punishments and cultivate an inside-out approach.
Aesop understood that. There is Aesop's fable of wind and sun competing to see who can remove a coat from a man. The wind tries to blow coat off, but man clutches it tightly to his body. Then sun grows hotter, and man, perspiring heavily and getting hotter and hotter, gladly rips coat off.
The leadership lesson is clear: You can bluster and blow to get somebody to accomplish a task, but that's not as effective as setting up a situation in which person gladly does it.
Here is a way to deal with poor performers using Aesop's lesson: 90-Day Improvement Plan. A business leader tells me that he uses such plans as tools for change. Each plan is comprised of two pages: first page pointing out that individual must improve and second page detailing precise ways that improvement must take place.