Financial Data
Updated 27 Sep 2020

Creating a star performer

On paper you have a great team, but some people just are not giving your their best. So, how do you improve their performance? Start by finding out what their issues are and what makes them tick.

01 April 2012  Share  0 comments  Print

All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

Just as you cannot make that old horse drink, so you cannot make some employees work more than is fundamentally necessary to keep them on payroll. They turn up (most days) and in return for a salary they give you their basic physical and mental presence - and nothing more.

We tend to want a quick fix for poor performers, but before you make any rash decisions ask yourself some fundamental questions:

  • Are you hoping to improve the performance of certain individuals, or the overall efficiency of the team?
  • Are some team members negatively influencing others?
  • Does your management style negatively affect any of your staff?

The answers to these will go a long way to what you should do next.

Individual performance

If your employees' hearts and souls are not for sale, how else can you engage them so that they will willingly and consistently give you their best? Interestingly, recent studies show that money is often way down the list of motivators.


Coaching is employee development and your only cost is time - and giving someone time shows you care. Coaching will enable, and importantly encourage, employees to reach their full potential and achieve outstanding performance.

Recognition and attention

Be generous with your thanks and bear in mind that personal, face-to-face recognition goes a long way. Praise someone when the achievement is fresh in everyone's mind.

You can be creative in your recognition by giving a gift (it does not need to be expensive) or award, but do not underestimate the power of applause. Spontaneous applause in a meeting, at lunch or around someone's office might make them turn red on the outside but it will make them feel good on the inside too.

Taking the lead

By giving individuals leadership roles you are telling them that you trust them to take more responsibility in the company. That is a powerful message and most people will step up to the mark.

Whether it be leading a project, running a training programme, chairing a meeting or conducting a company tour for visitors, your public show of faith in them will encourage them to shine.

Time off

People often value time more than money so reward achievements or performance with time off. Offer an extra half hour at lunch, let them come in late,leave early, or even take a half or full day off, if your company can afford it.

Team efficiency

Improving your team's performance can mean achieving more or getting the same outcome in less time.


Training should never end, and is more important in tough economic times than good. Would you expect the Boks to reduce or stop their rugby training if they were playing badly? Surely it makes sense to increase training to help them do their job more effectively?

Have fun

Most people spend more waking hours at the office than at home, so you need to make it fun, too. Organise monthly activities that will involve as many of your staff or department as possible, from the tea lady to management.

If you cannot afford to take it out of the office, turn an office or boardroom into a "play room" so that it is dressed for the job and everyone gets into the spirit of the moment. Then watch performance improve.

Negative team members

Negative employees are a drain on morale, which is unfair to the rest of the team. Regardless of how well they do their job, if one person's attitude is bringing everyone else down, they are reducing performance.

A private chat to clarify your expectations of them, along with implementing one or some of the ideas mentioned above, is a good starting point in addressing this issue.

Is it me?

You are a member of the team so you need to consider your own behaviour. Always be present and pleasant. Smile at people and greet each one by name. Take time to stop by their desks or workstations regularly and ask how they are.

Get to know them as people and learn what is important to them outside of the workplace. Join your team for lunch whenever possible, and always have an open door policy so they know they can come and talk to you when they have concerns.

Once you start paying more attention to your employees and make a connection with them, many of the issues around poor performance will improve by themselves.

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