How We Punish Our Performers

The gentleman who sat in the aisle seat next to me on my flight back from Dallas to Atlanta last week was clearly unhappy. I assumed his frustration was at the airline and his having to request to move from his middle seat a few rows up to an aisle seat next to me, so although I quite honestly was tired and not feeling like being too accommodating at the moment, I put my attitude in check and offered to raise my armrest so he could be more comfortable.

“No, that’s fine,” said the man. “I’m just mad at my boss!”

Well, you know after hearing that I HAD to ask why!

“They have me flying all over the place because they won’t fire people who can’t do their jobs. So, I’m being punished because I perform,” he said. Long story short, this man’s job was to go out and service machines. His territory was drivable, but because another colleague wasn’t doing his job, he was having to fly around the country doing a co-worker’s job in addition to his own because some clients weren’t happy with his co-worker’s service.

Wow, that really struck me! Punishing our performers, isn’t that something many of us are guilty of at one time or another?

When we tolerate poor performance or non-performance, we’re not just hurting our customers. We’re also hurting our employees, especially our employees who perform because they’re forced to pick up the slack. Although we want to continue to push and challenge our performers, we cannot do that by burdening them with the work of weaker performers, which over time will cause our performers to feel frustrated, taken advantage of, and resentful of us and their non-performing colleagues.

Do you inadvertently punish your performers because you haven’t dealt with other employees’ poor performance? If you lead people, it’s your job to hold everyone accountable to their performance. Stop procrastinating and plan now to address the poor performance of your under-performers.

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