When someone enrols to take my online education seminars, I ask them a simple question: As A Leader What Is The One Thing That Is Keeping You Awake At Night?

Here is one reader’s question and my answer: Steve, what keeps me up at night is:

I have two employees with similar job-titles and their duties are intertwined. One employee is highly motivated and always looking to take on more responsibility, while the other only does the minimum required.

 How do I ensure that the motivated employee does not start to disengage?

 How do I deal with the conflict between the two?


Hi (name removed for privacy)

Here is the thing about dealing with direct reports, you must treat people fairly and with equity, but there is no rule that they need to be treated equally. Here are couple of thoughts that should help:

I am not sure what HR support you have in your company, but I would engage them for advice and to begin a paper trail in case you need back up for any performance management actions.

How can you recognize your high performer?

Can you acknowledge his/her performance within the constructs of the existing HR policies? Are there any special projects they could be assigned to? Conferences or training they could attend? Are there career progression opportunities? Can you delegate something you do that would be interesting for them to work on?

How can you manage your average or low performer?

Sorry to tell you that this is where the fun comes out of being a Boss. You need to start having honest and hard conversations about their performance. A good HR person should be able to help you, but I would start having conversations based on facts not emotions.

For example: On this date this happened? Do you know the expectations we want? Why were you unable to do that?

After each conversation diarize what was said & done for your records and follow up with the person in writing (emails should be fine)

When you assign work consider using a personal charter to negotiate the terms, resources and expectations of what you want accomplished and what they need and want to get it done.

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