None of us is as smart as all of us...How to manage different types of performance in your team.

It takes all sorts of people to make a great team and ultimately a great business. These things don’t happen by accident. You’ve hired good people, things have been going well, but there comes a time when you need to review performance to ensure continued success.

Different people will need different management. We’ve put together some tips on how to manage different types of performance in your team. 


The starting point

You need to have a performance review process for your business.  If you don’t have one, make it a priority.  Performance review processes aren’t just for big businesses, whether you employ 4, 14 or 40 people you need to make time to talk to your team about how they think they are doing (and how you think they are doing), how this is measured and what it means to the business.

Having a basic form and framework will make this process much easier (and fairer). There are lots on the market, if you don’t already have one (or don’t know where to start), get in touch, we can help.

I’s are dotted, T’s are crossed

You have your framework in place. You have communicated to the business you’re going to conduct performance reviews. You’re ready for this.

People will usually fall into three categories of performance – all needing different approaches to get the best out of them. They include:


Top dogs

These people do a great job - they get on with it and it works - if you’re lucky you might have a couple of these in your team. 

 One of the biggest failures in managing people is to just let them get on with it while you focus on the problem areas.  Don’t do that – ever.  These are the people that will loyally work away, making a positive impact on your business, until they feel taken for granted. Once that day hits, and once their decision is made to leave, they will be snapped up and leave a big hole in your business.  Let’s not let that happen.

 Keep these people engaged and motivated. How?

  • Regularly meet 1:1 to discuss their work – just because they are getting on with it, doesn’t mean they don’t need your support to solve trickier issues and to learn from you.

  • Acknowledge their contribution - say thank you and tell them how important they are to your business. Some people are happy for this to be in a 1:1 setting, some prefer a more public pat on the back. Understand what motivates your individuals.

  • Reward them - this doesn’t always mean more money. As a small business you should be flexible enough to find ways to reward top performers without creating imbalance in the team or it costing a fortune.  Duvet mornings, flexible working, birthdays off, we’ve shared some ideas in this blog post


Middle of the road

This probably describes the majority of your team, the average performer. For the most part they do a good job, but how do you get them to the next level? A mix of management and encouragement should deliver a demonstrable difference. How?

  • Spend quality time with them - discuss set objectives and describe exactly what outcome you are looking for. Be clear.

  • You get what you inspect - ask them to go away and map out how they are going to achieve their objectives.  Meet with them to review their plans. Give them feedback before they start work – it might sound like extra work but it will save you hours in the long run.

  • Praise good work and offer encouragement - you may be asking them to work in a different way or on something outside of their comfort zone. Acknowledge it and celebrate success (or learn from failure).


The underachievers

Hopefully you won’t have too many poor performers in your team. You probably spend a lot of time thinking about why their performance falls below other team members. You feel frustrated that you can’t get them to up their game. Don’t give up.  Give this a go:

  • List it - Write down all of the things about their performance you are unhappy with.  Identify some specific examples and, for each one, describe the impact this has on your business.  Meet with them. Go through the list. Be honest. You need to approach it in a balanced (not accusatory) way or it might not have the impact you hope for.

  • Are they doing the right job? Have a think about their strengths - is there anything you can do to tweak their role to play to these strengths? This needs to be possible without placing pressure on colleagues to pick up the work. You don’t want to annoy the top or the average performers.

  • Pip pip - Maybe it’s time to take a firmer approach by creating a performance improvement plan.  Set out your areas of concern, the improvement you need to see and the time you want to see it in.  This can be tricky. It’s a good idea to take some HR advice here.


If you can get everyone working to the best of their ability, managed and motivated, then together you’ll succeed. Which can only be a good thing, as Ken Blanchard said, “None of us is as smart as all of us”.

Sarah RopekComment