Building high performing teams by showing your employees why they suck

This topic builds upon the previous “Building high performing teams by telling your employees they suck” (its not as simple as telling someone “you suck”); the emphasis really comes down to communication (showing) and attributes (why) they are not performing to expectations (sucking).

I learnt very quickly in my career that quality metrics do not lie and can easily convince to win an argument. I also learnt that pictures and diagrams help me explain (and understand) things much quicker than words alone. This is why, whenever I have had to prove something to myself, or explain a point; I have turned to metrics and diagrams.

So lets first cover some basics

Many companies do an “annual review” dance; some do it twice a year, some don’t even do it (we wont talk about them)…  and during this review, the expectation or assumption is that the person being reviewed has been working towards their goals that were defined the year prior; or that if goals had changed, then things would have been appropriately documented to reflect that change…. Truth is.. we do not have time for this; especially when you are in a high demand team where priorities change on you all the time. However; if you have been actively carrying out your 1-on-1‘s and have been using it to develop the person/your team and have some sort of career path or individual development plan in place; you may be well prepared for this annual review – Great for you!

Some lucky ones get an annual, semi-annual (or sooner) 360 review; I believe this provides more value than an annual review because it lets you hook into career development much sooner and/or it will give you insights to how you efforts are perceived by a larger audience who may be working with you on much closer day-to-day basis; this can one stay on top of their game if its done in short enough period as it is a great motivator. Managers can then review the trend over time and see how one is progressing to give a more accurate review.

At the end of the day, with all these reviews, coaching, development plans, etc. what we are really trying to do is grow people (or remove the ones that wont grow), make sure they perform and build teams that work well.

High-performing teams don’t just happen, they are made.

It is my opinion that in order to build high performing teams that work well; you have to instill a culture around “working well”. The annual, semi-annual, etc reviews really need to tie into a day-to-day type of thing; it may be seen as a lot of work (initially true), but just like good and frequent maintenance goes a long way, so does this.

To recap; what I have just stated is that we should focus on reviewing everyone on more frequent basis; something that ties into the day-to-day and can be captured daily or weekly… or best, if it can be captured adhoc as long as its captured within some frequent frequency. We would of course want this to be documentable, repeatable, measurable and actionable… we would want a process.

So, if this all has not added up yet, we want quality metrics that will provide diagrams/results based on process that can be used to communicate performance.

Every couple of weeks; I will ask my leads “without any thought into this, respond to my email and stack-rank your team”; or I will ask “If you had to do a project, who are the 3 people, in order of preference, you would pick”. Then there will be the “who is the most active volunteer” or “who is the least to volunteer”…  While these questions lead to answers that I plugin to my brain somewhere and maintain on spread sheets… they do not translate to quality metrics because they are not standardized enough… nor really repeatable.. (and probably other reasons as well). Another flaw with my method of capturing metrics is that it doesn’t allow “everyone”offer an opinion; only the ones I happen to ask or interact with that day. So while I may be able to “wing-it” and come up with diagrams based on some metrics… we need to focus on improving the quality of these metrics.

Quality Metrics

What does “team work” mean to you? What are the attributes of a team player? What type of people do you want to work with? or what type of people do you want working for you?

Here are some interesting data points that one can use a 1-5 scale to rate someone on (in no particular order)

  • Reliability
  • Constructive communicator
  • Active listener
  • Problem solver
  • Active participant
  • Shares solution/ideas
  • Volunteers assistance
  • Flexible
  • Customer focused
  • Respectful

In addition to defining the data points; you want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to provide this data on “any one” without a need for self-identification (remain anonymous) and you will want some way of reminding people to go back and update (or resubmit) data at some frequency.

Creating a process around capturing these metrics and emphasizing the need to submit feedback sends a strong message to your team(s) that this is important.


Once you have reviewed, tweaked and confirmed (adhoc charts) that you are capturing data that is meaningful; its time your shared the results with the team (where appropriate) and with individuals (as needed).

The diagram below is probably more for your own viewing (rather than sharing with the team)

ImageThis diagram identifies the low and high scorers (averages of combined attributes); and you can see from above, Employee 4 is a low scorer.. (bottom of stack rank)

You may want to dive deeper into this, and you will see


Where everyone lies based on attribute; is there a deviation for anyone? or does everyone score low in a specific category?

Again, from the above two it seems like Employee 4 isn’t at par with the rest.


Communicate how/why/where they are not performing… a picture says a lot more than words, see below:



This chart can be used in a 1-on-1 with Employee 4 to go over their specific performance; and can be tied in with what the “average employee” scores (which is just avg score per attribute), see image below


This image that compares employee 4 to the average employee accomplishes the “you are sucking” message and gives the employee actionable data that is backed by metrics. They can then use this information to focus improvement efforts.


So while its easy to focus on the literal words used. The goal should never be to tell someone that they suck (and stop at that); it should be to help drive change, development and improvement in someone by clearly communicating areas they need to focus on so that you can build a high performing team.





One comment

  1. Pingback: Building high performing teams by telling your employees they suck | Chief Hamster - Zeeshan Sheikh

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