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Dealing with the Bottom 20%

This morning I met with a successful business woman in my town to explore some options for my future and careers goals.  It was an enjoyable meeting and she was generous to share many ideas and information with me.

One thing we discussed was the idea that as a manager you are only as successful as the weakest person on your team.  If you're in leadership of any kind then I'm sure you can relate with the amount of time and energy that gets spent on the bottom 20% of your team.  Either you are coaching and training and disciplining them, or you're business picking up all the slack left by their lackluster performance.

When dealing with the bottom 20% I've decided there are basically two options that are sustainable in the long term.  Either you commit to building into that person and helping them improve, or you have to make the hard decision to cut them loose to do something they are better suited for - somewhere else.  The one thing you cannot do is be OK with the status-quo and allow the bottom 20% of your team to drag down and exhaust everyone else.

Here's the truth, you probably spend 80% of your time dealing with things caused by your bottom 20%.  Just think how much more you could do if you were spending all that time with your top performers?  The reality is that not everyone is cut out for every job, and if you're afraid to deal with bottom performers because you think you're doing them a favor, step back from the situation and see how many top performers are getting short changed by your lack of leadership to them.
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