First-class coach

With a poor performer, the key question is whether it's an issue of skill or will.

by Miranda Kennett

Q: It really annoys me that my company regularly pays off lazy or incompetent people instead of sacking them or trying to improve their performance. This seems to me like rewarding bad behaviour.

A: It's a sad reflection on failed responsibility that performance management is becoming a euphemism for getting rid of unwanted staff. The burgeoning number of compromise agreements and so-called redundancies are also testament to a failure to recruit the right people, and to manage them once appointed.

You are right to be angry: there's nothing so irritating to those who do a good job as to see slackers and incompetents walk away with a pay-off and a reasonable reference. And it's costly for the organisation: not only is it paying for an exit package, it's throwing away the cost of recruit- ing and training that person, and the firm risks demotivating its better people.

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