how to motivate low performers

Common Comp Crises: How to Motivate Low Performers

This is part 2 of our “Common Comp Crises” blog series. Part 1 details how to support and properly compensate top performers.

Low-performing employees can drag down departments and even businesses — you don’t need me to tell you that.

After all, a team’s only as good as its worst player, right?

As a comp pro, you’re the go-to person for managers who need help figuring out how to motivate low performers.

And we’re here to help.

We created a field guide on everything you need to know about tackling comp’s trickiest — yet most common — challenges.

Right here, right now, I’m diving into one specific type of comp challenge: dealing with lower-performers.

Sticky Situation — I Want to Boost an Average Employee’s Performance. Should I Give Them a Raise?

First things first: Good job to the manager who recognized that compensation can directly impact performance! 👏

But it’s not strategic to award lower-performing employees more compensation — at least not before you’ve identified and properly compensated your organization’s top performers.


Because you should give focus to the people who are driving business, not those who are struggling to do their part.

Maybe recommend putting the employee on an incentive plan to get them to map to organizational goals.

Or, suggest the manager holds weekly check-ins to track progress or improvement.

Obviously, you’ve got options here — and none of them involve shelling out extra pay.

Sticky Situation — I’ve Already Tried Incentive Plans and Open Communication to Help an Underperforming Employee. It Didn’t Work. What Now?

This one’s a doozy!

Working with an underperforming employee who’s already been warned they’re not meeting requirements?

Super tricky.

First, sit down with the manager who’s approached you and go through the following checklist:

  • Does the employee know the business’s larger goals and how they map to them?
  • Have you been tracking the employee’s progress towards these goals through regular check-ins?
  • Have you incentivized the employee to perform better?

If they’ve already completed these tasks, you’re looking at two options — and, spoiler alert, neither one is easy.

Want to know what they are?

Download the complete Comp Strategist’s Field Guide to find out! (Plus, you’ll also get access to more how-to solutions of common comp crises.)

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