What Defines a Low Work Performer?

Low performers thrive on idle gossip and chitchat with their coworkers.
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Low work performers are easy to spot in any organization. As a manager, you know the drill, and the headaches that come with it. She's the one who struggles to show up on time, but doesn't accomplish anything productive when she does. Motivating her is like pulling teeth without anesthetic, and your team feels likewise. This unhappy status quo won't change -- unless the low performer somehow improves, or you finally show her the door.


    To low performers, clocking out means something way different than your idea of a good day's work – like slipping out early for happy hour. Your low performer won't poke her head into the office on Mondays, Fridays, or days after payday, either. When she doesn't miss work, a low performer fritters away your time on personal calls, never-ending cigarette and coffee breaks, or trips to the water cooler, where there's always time for another round of chitchat.

    Phone talk fascinates low performers, because they don't discuss work-related issues.

Decreased Efficiency

    Low performers love dancing on the tightrope; that's why they can't function on the job. Sometimes, the under-performing employee botches tasks that she (usually) handles well. As complaints about missed deadlines and wasted materials pile up, guess who sweeps up her mess? You and your team's harder-working associates get to fix whatever mistakes your low performer makes. Not surprisingly, efficiency and morale starts to tank, as your staff begins wondering why you're keeping an underachiever on the payroll.

Lack of Accountability

    When your low performer misses a goal, her motto might well be: “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." Low performers show a consistent lack of accountability, regardless of the situation. When confronted with her errors, the low performer seeks to take your focus off those issues, according to “Perdido” magazine. She may shift the blame onto someone else, or spill her guts about some previously unspecified personal problem in a bid for your sympathy.

Poor Co-Worker Relations

    Maybe you've sent the low performer to your office's version of right field – nobody hits the ball there, so she can't hurt anybody, right? That's a good way to send morale south, according to Bill and Joan Truby, co-leaders of the professional development firm, Truby Achievements. Although they're (thankfully) few in number, low performers bitch and moan louder than anybody else. Her co-workers just grit their teeth, and wonder why she hasn't gotten canned yet; so much for not doing any harm!

Resistance to Change

    Business conditions don't stand still; isn't that why companies spend so much time training everybody? High performers love when the boss wants them something to learn new, as leadership trainer and management consultant Mark Murphy advises in an interview with “BusinessNewsDaily.” Low performers dig in their heels and crank up the attitude, because they fear change. Ask which image sounds more like you. If your co-workers are still muttering under their breath, it's time to take an ego bath.

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