Archives June 2019

A Poor Performer Costs Money, But If You Like Them It Will Cost You $76,500* – Two Approaches To Cut That Cost

*Based on the average Canadian salary of $51,000

Intuitively we know that having a poor performer on your team will cost money in lower production, inter-personal conflict, extra supervision.

Shockingly, a poor performer who is enthusiastic and is personally likable stays employed on average 18-months longer than if they were not liked.

Imagine taking $76,500* and lighting it on fire just because you enjoy the enthusiastic warmth it gives off.

That is what you are doing by paying someone for 18-months just because you like them.

What do you do?

You can follow the Servant Leadership model or the Netflix model.

The Servant Leader Model

Recently Ken Blanchard of the Greenleaf Centre addressed the problems leaders face when employees “won’t do” what is expected of them.

Blanchard defines a “won’t do” problem as one when, despite being given the tools, the person doesn’t have the desire to change his or her behaviour and that there is a cost to your organization.

Read my thoughts on servant leadership

In the Servant Leader model, you give your poor performer every opportunity to improve, and when you know that they understand what you expect but still won’t do it, it may be time to “share them with the competition.”

The implications of the Servant Leader approach to the ‘won’t do’ employee means taking time to assess a person’s mindset and skill set correctly, develop performance management plans and manage the risk in letting someone go.

All of this cost money, time and the opportunity costs when you are focused on the poor performer when your time could be better spent with you higher potential employees.

The Netflix Model

When Netflix has someone who cannot or will not do their jobs as they expected, they choose to limit the cost quickly.

Like pulling a Band-Aid off.

In a recent podcast interview with Alex Blumberg and Patty McCord Netflix’s past Chief HR Officer she explained: Once they recognized there wasn’t a fit, they would knock on the door and say, “I think you’ve gotten kind of the vibe that I’m not particularly happy about the way things are going.”

If the employee disagrees or isn’t expecting the conversation, they say “Okay, so I haven’t been very clear about that. So here’s the team that I’m trying to build. And I need to have people that understand the technical people and understand what they’re. And unfortunately, you are not a fit.

Read about having tough conversations

The Netflix approach is to let you have three months of severance already in your pocket, instead of wasting that three months of time for you, the person and the rest of the team.

McCord recommends that instead of developing a 90-day performance improvement plan where once a week, she is going to sit down with the poor performer and prove that they are incompetent in writing. So not only is the employee and the supervisor miserable, because we both know it’s a farce. 


When dealing with poor performers, you need to do what is right for you and your organization.

And I understand that you may face HR policies or collective agreements that may trip you up.

Read about spending the right time in the right place

But do you want to waste your time, the employee’s life and all that money when you already know the right thing to do?

Does My Butt Look Big In This Dress – 2 Phrases A Boss Needs To Respect The Truth And Your Team

There was a great commercial out a few years back.

Picture a sepia hued scene set in Abraham and Mrs. Lincoln’s a parlour room. Mrs. Lincoln was showing off her new Sunday-Best dress when she says to ‘Honest Abe:’ “Does this dress make me look fat?” Honest Abe, stares at the floor nervously turning his stovepipe hat in his hands as he tries to decide what the right response might be.

Bosses are human beings like the rest of us and, unless you are a sociopath, who wants to hurt the ones we love, like and care for. So we are in good company when we tell white lies to avoid upsetting people.

But what do you say when an employee asks about a situation where your organization is involved with a sensitive negotiation? Or, they get wind of a layoff or some other decision that will impact their lives?

Read how not to Eff up talking to your people

The groundwork for situations like these must be laid well in advance. You must build trust by explaining every decision you make in an open and transparent manner. You do this so that when the time comes and you can’t be transparent, people will trust because you have proven yourself trustworthy.

When the inevitable question comes up that you are not able to answer, here are the 2 responses you need to know:

  • I don’t know,


  • I can’t say.

If you don’t know, say so. People know BS when they hear it, so don’t BS. Simply respond that you don’t know the answer, but you will find the answer. Give them a date when you will get back to them and then meet that commitment even if you can only report that you are still working on it.

Sometimes you can’t say. The issue may well be confidential, so say these words: ‘I can’t say’ and add a brief explanation. For example, when asked about lay off rumours that you know are based in fact, respond by saying: ‘I can’t say. The company is making plans to deal with the economic downturn and when they are finalized we will be making an announcement. But there will be no changes before Oct 31.’

Read how to communicate in tough times

These answers are seldom fully satisfactory, but they are the truth, and you will be respected for the answer.

But for heavens sake, don’t get caught staring at the ground fiddling with your hat and trying to get out of trouble.