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When you have a high performer whose performance starts dropping, how do you handle it?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from over 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

When you have a high performer whose performance starts dropping, how do you handle it?

  • I let it sort itself out — they know what they’re supposed to do: 6%
  • I give them a pretty long leash but intervene before it goes too far: 47%
  • I nudge them early to let them know something is off: 44%
  • I jump in and start managing them much more closely: 3%

To nudge or not? Folks seem evenly split on whether to nudge a high performer when they see something off in terms of performance. While many of you opt to not say anything, a large portion (44%) will make a small prod when they see performance slightly off track. Either approach is likely fine provided you give that high performer room to fix the issue. Sometimes just making them aware of something being amiss is more than enough to get things back on track. Regardless of which tack you take, know when they need to be bailed out. It’s a pretty terrible outcome to lose a high performer because you let their performance deteriorate beyond something they could correct on their own.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”

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