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Building Effective Teams

Unfortunately, it is always the case that in any team in an organization, there will be poor achievers and underperformers present. There are always employees that for whatever reason do not live up to the standards and expectations set by the organization. When force ranking is applied, poorly performing employees usually belong to Quartile Four.

While poor performers are a regular occurrence, team leaders and managers right the way up to the top of business are in agreement that poor performers are difficult to handle. Levinson states that it is a fraught and cringe worthy task to undertake, but whether we like it or not, underperformers need to be confronted to either make them better employees, or fired (Levinson. 2004). Even a very small cross section of poor performers can have a drastic impact on the performance of an entire team or even an entire organization.

I am the HR manager of a large company, and from experience i would advise that members of a team help each other in the set task, and other responsibilities. If any members of a team realize that certain members are not pulling their weight, then quick action needs to be taken, firstly by talking to these individuals and working with them. If you are truthful about the situation to the employee, then there is a good chance they will reveal certain performance affecting issues that they are troubled with. Doing this helps to uncover the cause of the problem, and this gives the best chance for future improvement. Peer-to-peer guidance is often more appropriate than from team leaders or managers because people are more likely to open up to their peers. Not only that, but peers spend plenty of time with each other and so have a better idea of the situation than a manager would. So, peers can provide the most accurate and relevant information regarding peer performance.

People who are not performing well can be brought to the attention of managers by peer and customer feedback. The customers are the ones who see the end result of the employee's work, and if the customer is not satisfied, then this is a reliable flag to indicate poor performance on the employee's behalf.

While peers can often help contribute in the improving of another peer's performance, the best source of authority for approaching the poor performer and solving the problem is the immediate superior of the peer group, as they would know the person well enough, and have the best idea of where things need to be improved, while not coming across as too authoritative to the poor performer in question. This superior can give advice and suggestions on what needs to be done for improvement.

The key way to handle people who perform below standard is through teaching, coaching and mentoring. This, alongside the monitoring of the person's performance and improvement goes a very long way to improving the productivity of the employee in question. Coaching is great because it provides a means of interaction between the supervisor and the employee in question, especially the communication on the topic of his or her performance. Having said this, if all of the appropriate coaching and mentoring is tried to no avail, then it is best for everyone for the employee to be fired. After all, there is no guarantee that a job will suit a particular person, and in most cases management will be doing the employee a favor.


  1. Levinson, M. (2003, November 1). How to Find, Fix or Fire Your Poor Performers. CIO Magazine. Retrieved August 1, 2006.
  2. Time to Stop Tolerating Poor Performers. (2006, February 26). The Sunday Times. Retrieved August 1, 2006 from,,8543-2057887_1,00.html