How to Deal with “Average” Employees

· by Alicia Leary

Alicia is the Marketing Team Lead at HTI. She started her career with HTI in 2015 as a Sales Coordinator.
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I received this question from a client production supervisor this week, “What should I do with a temporary employee that does an okay job, but that I know will never be hired on by my company full time?”  In this case, you have a few options:

  • This employee may be your stellar “foot soldier.” You never need to worry about them coming to work every day; they may even have perfect attendance. But, they only do enough to get by and never volunteer to help others when needed.  You need these just as much as you need your “shining stars.”
  • This employee may be draining your department’s morale and hampering innovation. If other top performers see an average employee skating by each day, it may poorly motivate them to do the same.
  • Try to find them another seat on the bus. Not all people can work all jobs. Maybe this average employee is just not suited for this role.  Think about it, you wouldn’t want a Quality Engineer running your Accounting department, would you? Find their skill set and use it to motivate them.

So, how do you take this “Average Joe” to a top performer?

  • Know your top performers and set the bar high. Recognize them. Use them as employee mentors. Employees like recognition-you will not only continue to motivate your top performers, but you’ll also show your average employees what they can do to advance.
  • Learn your employee’s motivational drivers. To some, money is the most important thing. To others, it’s more responsibility or a pat on the back.  Once you know and use these drivers, you’ll get miles more from your employees.
  • Determine if the problem is their sense of urgency or their initial training. Training you can fix; urgency is a bit harder.

We all love great employees who show tons of promise. But, sometimes it just takes a little more effort with those that don’t. Invest the time if it seems worth it, you may surprise yourself!