How to Stop C Employees from Killing Your Culture

BY Kathy Crosett
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If you are blessed with outstanding employees on your team, you probably also have a few C employees. I’m not talking C‑suite material. Here, I’m focusing on the employees who never quite seem to get the job done.

Your star employees don’t operate in a vacuum. They’re likely working extra hours to get the job done. They won’t be happy to see C employees coasting through the day. Sooner or later, they will be upset by what they perceive as basic unfairness. If you don’t take action, your culture and employee loyalty will be at risk.

Jay Conger and Allan Church discuss several types of C employees and what to do about them in a recent Harvard Business Review post. One type of C employee is the underachiever. These people often have the ability to do the work you’ve assigned. But, they aren’t completing the tasks. To turn the situation around, you need to start meeting with these employees on a regular basis.

During these meetings, ask questions to get to the real issue. Is lack of motivation the problem? Is so, find out exactly what your C employees like and don’t like about their current situation. If they’re unhappy with a specific job task, research whether you can outsource it. Find out what these employees are good at. Then, assign them new responsibilities that match their interests.

You may also find out that their motivational issues are all about you. They may have concluded that you don’t like them as much as you like other employees — like your super stars. Maybe you've been spending more of your time with your super stars. If that’s the case, find a way to work more closely and consistently with your C employees. Assure them of their importance to you and the team.

If you can find a way to use each employee’s best talents, you’ll have a motivated team and a culture everyone can feel good about.