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Why Is This Low Performer Still Here?

September is wrapping up and we're getting ready to head into Q4. I bet, for many of you, performance evaluations are right around the corner. You have some absolute rockstar employees that you plan on writing a glowing evaluation for! But for that one low performer... well...

So, earlier we talked about quiet quitting. Turns out, quiet quitting has an evil twin, called quiet firing. Quiet firing refers to when a manager purposefully treats a worker poorly or withholds opportunities or rewards, probably to avoid laying them off and/or hoping the employee quits.

Quiet firing could look like:

  1. Overburdening the employee with busywork

  2. Skipping the employee for a promotion or a raise, maybe even several times in a row

  3. Giving vague feedback on projects

  4. The manager making themselves unavailable for conversations

If that sounds familiar to you, you're not alone. According to this LinkedIn poll, a whole 83% of respondents said that they have seen or experienced quiet firing; 48% have seen it before, and 35% say they've been the target or a quiet firing before.

Quite frankly, this is a poor tactic to deal with a low performer. A successful manager needs to be confident in having tough conversations, putting an employee on a performance improvement plan, and if it comes to it, ending the company's relationship with the low performer. No, of course it's no one's favorite part of leadership, but dodging the responsibility in such a passive-aggressive manner isn't just unhealthy for your work environment, but can even open the company up to great risk.

The team dynamic can really be affected if a manager begins "quiet firing" a member of the team and is not offering appropriate coaching. Work left undone by the low performer becomes extra burden on the other team members. Resentment between the employee and the manager could cause a tense social environment. The mid- and high-performers on the team may feel less comfortable going to their manager for guidance after seeing their dismissive attitude towards one of their teammates. The ripple effects here are bigger than they appear.

So examine those performance evals and make sure you're being honest! If an employee isn't performing to the heights that you want, work it into the conversation what your expectations are, and coach the employee on how to meet those expectations. Or, if it's come to the point where the employee's skillset is inherently incompatible with the work the team needs done, then it's high time to let the employee go.

Still not sure how to handle that low performer, let's talk!


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