Are You Making This Classic Management Mistake?

BY Kathy Crosett
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On every team, there are high performers. You know who I’m talking about. These people deliver every assignment, on time and on budget. And, they volunteer for the tough projects. Then, you’ve got employees who always have an excuse, instead of a completed blog post or piece of code.

If you’re like a lot of managers, you’re tempted to give your high performers more work. Why? Because it’s easier for you. That’s a big management failure on your part. Even worse, you risk demotivating your high achievers.

Skill Assessment

As a manager, part of your job is skill assessment and task assignment. This is not a one-​and-​done scenario. You should regularly review your team members’ skills and interests. Each time your department receives a new assignment, don’t automatically give the task to your top performer. Think about which employees have indicated an interest in doing something new. If they don’t have the exact skills, is their level of professionalism close enough to take on the job with a little coaching from you?

This approach might mean having a frank conversation with your under-​performing employees as Albizu Garcia, writing for American Express, suggests. Before you stress them out with any additional assignments, set up a one-​on-​one meeting. Be direct in the meeting and get to the bottom of the poor performance. Your team member’s issues could range from a misunderstanding to a lack of passion for the specific work projects they’re trying to finish. Once you agree on an approach, give them a chance to demonstrate what they can do.

Match Job Responsibilities to Native Skills

Drew Rhodes, the cofounder of Aletheia Digital, talked with us recently for a Manage Smarter podcast and shared a specific technique he uses. It all comes down to finding out what the under-​performing team member is good at. If you’re operating in a fast-​paced environment, you may not have the time or budget to retrain an employee to improve at something like writing blog posts. On the other hand, if that person excels at customer service interactions, reassign them. Be specific about the tasks you want to see them perform and let them run with their new responsibilities.

The bottom line is managers aren’t just responsible for delegating tasks to team members. They need to monitor the entire skill set in their department over time and as the mix of employees changes. When they reassign tasks evenly across the organization, high performing employees won’t feel they’re working in an unfair situation.