Replacing poor performers doesn’t always work

I was sitting in a session during the Human Resources Management Conference about employee engagement recently, and someone brought up an amazing quote.

As a little background, business leaderĀ Jack Welch advocated firing the bottom 10% of poor performers in order to maintain a high performance organization.

You can replace the bottom 10-20% of poor performers, but a bad manager can keep that poor performance going indefinitely.

I thought that was a fantastic insight. Even if you’re tossing the lowest ranked employees, a bad manager can hire more. A bad manager can turn a great employee into a bad one with enough inattention and mismanagement. A bad manager can hire B performers instead of A performers because he is afraid to hire someone capable of replacing him.

Replacing poor performers might not work if your supervisors are the real problem.

Good stuff, huh?

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