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Blog - How do you manage a top performer who is behaving badly? by Tracy Powley

How do you manage a top performer who is behaving badly? by Tracy Powley

Posted by Tracy Powley 08/04/14

This is one of the most commonly asked questions in our management development programmes. It is a dilemma particularly keenly felt in a sales environment because managers worry that by tackling such issues, their biggest biller (and all their revenue) will walk out of the door.

But it also happens in other working environments. A private care home group we work with raised this as a concern only this month. An experienced carer who is fantastic with residents and great with relatives was showing a marked lack of cooperation and teamwork amongst her fellow carers.  Managers worried that addressing this would do more harm than good... How would she react? Would she become more difficult? Would she decide to leave? 

We pose one simple question in these situations... What happens if you don’t tackle it?

Quite quickly managers start to see how dangerous it can be to leave these situations unchecked....

For a start, the behaviour won’t change – in fact, it often gets worse if it goes unchallenged. And then the potential “ripple” effect starts to become clear... How will this affect the rest of the team? Will it encourage others to try “getting away with it”? How does it reflect on the manager themselves, if they don’t deal with it?  And if it is affecting team motivation, how long before this becomes apparent to the external customers in some way?

One thing that often helps, is getting managers to define “performance”. When we manage people’s performance, we should be looking at 2 key areas...
1. what someone does... in other words the output of the job (such as bringing in revenue and hitting sales targets or completing tasks to certain deadlines)
2. how someone goes about their job... the behaviours they display in carrying out their job

A top biller who rides roughshod over team members to get their results is not a good performer. A carer who shows endless patience to a resident, but is dismissive of their co-workers is not a good performer.

Viewing both aspects of performance as equally vital will help managers to address behavioural issues with team members when they fall short... just as they would address someone missing a sales target or missing a deadline.

Look out for our guidelines to help managers tackle this situation in our May newsletter.

Or have a look at how we have helped a range of organisations resolve difficult behaviour at work

Tracy Powley
Tracy Powley

Stella Chandler and I founded Focal Point on a shared belief that a training course run in isolation doesn't work. We passionately believe there must be support both before and after the training or coaching session itself for it to make a difference. When I am not facilitating sessions with clients or looking at ways to grow the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

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