The Poor Performers Matrix

Before I get into how to evaluate poor performers, let me start with how to avoid having a poor performer situation.

Start by hiring the right people.

Did you know that if you hire the wrong people nothing works.  None of your people strategies will work.   Training just does not work if you hire the wrong person.  Motivation will not help if you hired the wrong people.   It is hard to figure out who is the right person to hire.  It seems so subjective.   The idea of trusting your intuition to select people … the old “trust your gut” method, really is not a good way to hire the right people.    How can you predict how a person is going to perform?  How can you take something so subjective and make objective?

Before I got in the Executive Search industry I was in corporate America working as the Director of Recruiting for a large sales organization.  When I started there they had a better than 50% turnover rate among their Sales Professionals.   If there was ever a proving ground for finding a method for hiring the right people this was it.  We typically would hire over 200 sales professionals a year.   With that volume we tried some things… some worked and some didn’t but the best selection method we found was learning this one fact of life.   “The best predictor of future performance is based on a person’s past performance.”

We were able to reduce turn over by 50% by looking at these 5 strategic indicators of past performance.

  1. Stability… How long had they been staying on their jobs?
  2. Skill… Had they already been successful in outside sales?
  3. Success… Had they won awards…did they grow sale in their territory?
  4. Salary… Were they and their family use to living in a commission environment?
  5. Social… You can’t teach Character and Attitude you have to hire it.

We would eliminate candidates that did not have evidence in their past work history that would prove they had these 5 strategic indicators in their past performance.

(If you would like to have the interview questions that were developed to expose these performance indicators email

Train Your People.

Did you know that most people don’t know how to do their job?   I know you trained them and showed them exactly what to do.  They retained as much as they could then went out there and started figuring it out on their own…and in the process developed all the wrong habits.  Here is the training method we use and it really turned around the first year production of all our rookies.  First year sales went up by 27% when we implemented this training method.

  1. Explain…tell them how to do their job. Let them get their mind around it.
  2. Example…You be the example and show them how to do the job. Let them see you win and make mistakes.
  3. Examine…You watch them practice doing the job. This is where the right habits are developed.
  4. Expect… Now that you know they can do the job (You have seen them do it.) you have earned the right to expect them to do the job. Give them some goals to achieve.   Some people call this Management by Objectives.
  5. Empower… Catch people doing things right and praise them for it. Everybody has a desperate need to be appreciated.  No one can keep them engaged like their manager.

Don’t Fire People…Develop Them.

When you have a culture of people development you will invest way to much time in finding them and training them to easily fire them.  We had only 3 reasons to fire people.

  1. They lie, cheat, or steal.  This is a character issue.  You can’t teach character.
  2. They are a disruption to the team… Now they are harming other people’s careers.
  3. They won’t do their job.  If you hired the right person and trained them this should not be a problem.

Now you are ready for the Poor Performers Matrix.  

Sometimes you have a situation where a person who was a good performer has lost their steam they just are not performing like they use to… and you the leader needs to diagnose the problem and offer a “People Development Solution” this matrix will give you some real direction for finding the cure.

Poor Man's Matrix Diagram

So think of a person who use to perform at an acceptable level and now their production is down.   Give them a grade on skill from 0 to 10 on the left-hand scale of the graft.   (you cannot pick a 5)   Now do the same on attitude using the bottom scale.   Now draw a line straight across for skill and straight up for attitude the two lines will connect in one of the quadrants.

  1. If your lines connect in Quadrant 1 you are saying they have good skills but a poor attitude.   So the diagnosis is this person needs motivation.   You can’t raise all your kids the same way and you can’t motivate everyone on your team the same way.   Learn what motivates them and go to work developing them.
  2. If your lines connect in Quadrant 2 you are saying they have good skills and a good attitude but they still have poor performance.   This is usually a person that has either an inside or outside distraction.   If it is an inside distraction, see if they are having trouble with a coworker or if their problem is you.   People don’t quit their company they quit their manager. Figure it out and take action.   If it is an outside distraction something like going through a divorce or death in the family or financial problems.   These are things you can’t fix but be understanding and baby them through this time.   Remember “Time heals all wounds”.
  3. If your lines connect in Quadrant 3 you are saying this person does not have good skill and on top of that they have a bad attitude.  The diagnosis for this one is tough but you have probably made a bad hire.  Cut your losses early.
  4. If your lines connect in Quadrant 4 you are saying this person has poor skills but a good attitude.   Wow they have a good attitude you have something to work with.  The diagnosis here is… give this person some training.   Back to the basics Explain, Example, Examine, Expect, Empower will get the job done.

Remember the definition of Leadership is …

Getting a predetermined objective accomplished through the voluntary efforts of your team.

All of us at Career Development Partners believe “People Are Worth the Investment”

Call 918-293-0500 today to learn more about how we can inspire leadership in your company.

Mike DukeMike Duke: President, Recruiting Practice Leader

Mike is a Certified Personnel Consultant and President of Professional Search for Career Development Partners.  Mike is a successful entrepreneur and people developer.

For over twenty years Mike has been bringing positive change to corporate leaders in the area of hiring, training, and developing people. He says, “You can boil any business down to three basic strategies: Products, Profits and People. Out of these, the people strategy is the most important. If you don’t hire the right people, none of the other strategies will work.”



Travis Jones - CEO of Career Development Partners

Written By Mike Duke

Mike is a Certified Personnel Consultant and President of Professional Search for Career Development Partners. Mike is a successful entrepreneur and people developer.

You May Also Like…

Elevated Emotional Intelligence

Elevated Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence in the workplace has been accentuated in the past few years. The practice of high EQ has vast benefits.

Share This