Is your employee a first string varsity player, or just showing up to ‘ride the pine’?

As a manager of people within your organization, more than likely you conduct evaluations of each employee.  But do certain employees always end up at the bottom of your ranking sheet? A low-ranking employee is considered a problem employee.

As a CEO, I believe in keeping score.  My son is a lineman on his high school football team.   If he is not producing blocks and protecting his quarterback he is not going to be a starter, let alone play in a game.  If he wants to be a successful football player, he knows that he has to complete  quality plays that protect his team and help produce winning results.  The same is said for employee effectiveness.

The former General Electric CEO Jack Welch has a great employee ranking program.  He believes that managers should assess their employees every year and divide them into three categories:

    The top 20 percent of employees are your starters.  They are the team that will win the game.  These employees should be showered with praise, affection and various rewards.    Keep these employees happy with accolades, financial bonuses and anything else you can think of.  These are the employees that will help you grow your company, that believe in the company, and  show ownership in the company.  These are the employees that you do not want to lose.  This group of Top 20 Percent Employees are winners. 
    The middle 70 percent of employees are the team members that show up and are loyal and LOVE the game.  Although they might not be your “starters” they should still be given coaching, training, and goal-setting opportunities that will help them advance into the Top 20.  “Keeping them motivated is the most difficult part of the manager’s task“, says Jack Welch in his book, Winning“You do not want to lose the vast majority of your middle 70 Percent – you want to improve them,” he continues.  Help these employees grow.  These employees can eventually become starters and earn their way up to the Top 20 ranking if given opportunities and training to get there.
    As for the bottom 10 percent employees, “there is no sugarcoating this,” Mr. Welch says. “They have to go.”  It’s time to say “You’re Out!” to the Bottom 10 Percent Employees.   The bottom 10 percent are happy “riding the pine’ and see no reason to put in any extra effort.  After all, the gatorade is free and they still get a uniform.   These employees bring down everything that is good in your team.  These employees are the reason you drink and the reason you take more tylenol than is probably suggested by your family practice doctor.  Cut these employees right now, their negativity and sloth are like cancer; spreading like wildfire.  This group of Bottom 10 Percent Employees are not interested in winning the game and will contribute nothing positive to your team, or to your company. 

My advice to you is this: Do not keep employees if they’ve landed themselves on the bottom 10 percent.  Unfortunately (and trust me this has happened to me)  a Bottom 10 Percent Employee will occasionally slip through the cracks and remain employed at your organization.  If that happens, it’s important to monitor the situation carefully.   Annual Peer reviews and annual criminal reviews may lead to opportunities that will allow you to get rid of the Bottom Ten Percent and increase your effectiveness as a manager.

Research by the National Institute for the Prevention of Workplace Violence disclosed that employers have been found liable for negligent hiring or retention of dangerous or incompetent employees, in more than half of the United States.  Negligent hiring and incompetent employees can lead to legal ramifications against your company.

Conducting  a thorough, compliant pre-employment background screening will obviously help to weed out the criminally negligent employees, and annual recurring screenings  can help prevent problems with current employees.   Statistics show that eighteen percent of people in the United States have a criminal record and an astounding sixty percent of workplace theft and fraud happen at the hands of an employee, usually a disgruntled employee.  Workplace violence costs employers more than four billion dollars a year in lost work and legal fees.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the additional cash flow to baby a Bottom 10 Percent Employee.

Take care of your employees, especially the Top 20 Percent.  But if an employee lands himself/herself on the Bottom 10 Percent, it’s time to cut him or her from your team; for the benefit of rest of your team and for your own sanity.


Brian   About the author: Brian Chapman, CEO at MBI Worldwide Background Checks
Mr. Chapman is CEO of MBI Worldwide, Inc. (a global employee background screening company) and has been in the employment screening industry since 1998.  He sit on the NAPBS National Board of Credentialing and is an author, keynote speaker and expert witness in the employee background check circuit.