How Followers Feel When They Fall Behind

Performance-challenged employees will typically band together in opposition to the need for improvement. They are also the first to point out even the smallest faults of their performance-minded teammates whenever the need for change is mentioned. Fearing the loss of status, they view progress as a threat to their longevity.

Because the low producers have more at stake in staying put, they are more likely to “fight” for their job in ways you have never imagined. To them the grass is always greener on their side of the fence.

This is not true for Doers who are less likely to feel threatened by a change in their job. They have the confidence to look beyond their current position. They maintain an external network that keeps them abreast of job openings and career opportunities. That is why the performance expectations of Doers must be continuously upgraded and expanded—with matching rewards. If their performance is not recognized, these highly-sort-after performers will look for appreciation elsewhere. And, who does that leave behind?

After years of listening to their relatives rant and rave about the idiots they have worked for, young people do not expect much in the way of wise council and sound guidance from their supervisors. Fresh out of school and not long away from their family’s influence, they have little interest in setting their own performance goals. Their only objective is to avoid upsetting the boss. They have been led to believe that if the boss is happy, then they must be doing a good job. The one thing they have been warned not to do is challenge the boss’s opinion or offer one of their own.

Even when their opinion is sought most of today’s first time employees, conceal their true feelings or say only what they think the boss wants to hear.

You have to wonder how this is possible when corporate America has invested billions of dollars and millions of hours on training programs designed to increase productivity and upgrade performance. Sadly, these efforts have mostly been leadership-focused in that they have not addressed the way followers are made to feel when their performance is challenged.

Workers who “under perform” are seldom asked if they would like additional education or a transfer to a job more suitable to their current skills and abilities. Instead, they are usually sent to training as a condition of continued employment.

As you try to influence the behavior of the poorest performers, remember that they are probably dealing with deep-seated fears and feelings of rejection that started in school and at home long before they came to work for you. The one thing these workplace newbys are really good at is covering up their fears and holding their feelings in check until their performance is challenged and the possibility of failure looms large.

Unless you are careful how you handle them, they will just use your attempts to raise their standards as an excuse to step away from even the simplest problem and let you handle it yourself.

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