The Seduction of Potential


There are three areas in which managers constantly struggle. One area is deciding who to hire and where to find good talent. The second is deciding who to invest the time in turning around, and the third is determining who to let go and when to do it. These are the tasks that managers complain about the most.
When it comes to making these decisions about their employees, the questions I hear most often, the ones that keep managers up at night, sound like this:
• “I’m not getting the production I need from my team, even when I continually push them. How do you turn an underperformer into a top producer or at least into an average, acceptable producer?”
• “When does it make sense to invest your time, money, and resources into someone who you feel you can turn around?”
• “How can I determine (with great certainty), based on a defined set of criteria, benchmarks, and measurable steps, when to cut the proverbial cord and let someone go?”
During a coaching workshop, on the first day of a weeklong conference, someone asked a question about how to handle an underperformer. While this manager was sharing in great detail the challenges she was having with a salesperson she hired several months ago, I noticed an interesting reaction from the audience. I glanced out at a sea of people, their heads nodding up and down in agreement, ...

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