Communication Contribution Goals Leadership Managing Self

How to tell if you are working with a non-performer?

Written by Jasbindar Singh

Are you feeling frustrated, angry and upset by someone – colleague, direct report, perhaps even a manager (!) or a supplier who is just not pulling their weight?

Despite your many attempts to talk to them, get them on board and to change their behavior and outcomes, you are plainly and simply, ‘hitting the wall!’

In fact, the only thing that is moving and overworking, is YOU!

This is a negative sum game — not only is there no change in their overall effort and performance but as a well regarded colleague put it, “If someone isn’t toeing the line, they are friction, a drag on efficiency and effectiveness.”

Not only do they NOT perform, they also they mess with your head!

Welcome to the world of working with a non-performer, which from time to time we all get lumbered with.

Signs that you are working with a non-performer

Ask yourself these questions – not in any order of importance or priority – and see how many Yes’s you get.

  1. Do you find yourself making the same request over and over again and nothing or very little gets done?
  2. Are you noticing a lack of ownership, responsibility and accountability in their behavior and talk?
  3. Do you hear excuses, blame and denial a lot of the times as to why things happened or did not happen?
  4. Are you noticing they rarely apologize for not delivering and as per discussion/agreement and for what may have gone wrong?
  5. Are you left feeling that anything you say is just talking to air/brick wall because nothing really is landing and in the end, they do what they do which is very little!
  6. Do you hear words like, “Leave it to me,” “I know what I am doing,” even “I have done this before” and yet the results are not confirmatory of these utterances?
  7. If things do get done, is it because you have finally escalated the matter to a senior or their boss?
  8. Alternatively, do they have a boss or manager who is protective of them and there is collusion between them.
  9. Have you found that when you do raise the matter with their senior or higher up, following on from the point above, they also argue back and downright support that non-performer despite your experience of their performance?
  10. Are you feeling angry, frustrated or stuck because your work and output is affected and you feel like you cannot get on with your own work?
  11. Regardless of the urgency or impact of any issue, there is no change in their response rate. Whether urgent, critical or important, the action is – well very little.
  12. Have you endured emotional, physical or financial loss as a result of their non-performance?
  13. Are you feeling unheard, unsupported, minimized, discounted and perhaps even ridiculed like somehow “YOU” are the problem!
  14. Do you find yourself feeling angry and noticing that your tolerance level is being severely tested now?
  15. You desperately want things to feel and be normal but you are realizing now that things are not going to change and it is you who has to make some structural or strategic change.

If you have answered a whole bunch of yes’s then it is time to take some serious action. Your time, energy and health and well-being are all precious commodities, which need to be better spent.

What you can do or may have tried already:

  • Had a conversation with them about what you are noticing and given them a chance to put forward their side of things
  • Listened deeply to understand what the problem dynamics and opportunities for solutions are
  • Asked them if there is anything you can do that will help you both address the issues that are of concern
  • Given some consequences if standards are still not met
  • Given them time to see if they deliver on promises made
  • You may or may not have followed through on the consequences

Final words

Non-performers can leave you thinking it is your problem. But don’t be fooled — it’s not you, it’s them!

About the author

Jasbindar Singh

Leave a Comment