Bad At Their Jobs, And Loving It

By Lauren Weber | Wall Street Journal | March 27, 2013, 11:39 AM

A company's best employees should also be its happiest and most engaged, but that's not always the case.

A new study finds that, in 42% of companies, low performers actually report being more engaged – more motivated and more likely to enjoy working at their organization, than middle and high performers do.

The findings suggest many organizations are not holding employees accountable for their work, allowing the worst workers to skate by, says Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, the Atlanta based consulting firm that conducted the survey.

"Low performers often end up with the easiest jobs because managers don't ask much of them,” so they're under less stress and they're more satisfied with their daily work lives.

Meanwhile, dedicated and conscientious workers end up staying at the office late, correcting the work of the low performers, and making sure clients - customers are satisfied.

This pattern breeds frustration and disengagement in the high performers and perhaps ultimately drives them to seek work elsewhere. "They feel stressed and undervalued, and it starts to undermine the high performers' confidence that the organization is a meritocracy," said Mr. Murphy.

To remedy the situation, managers should speak frankly with high and middle level performers, ferreting out what frustrations might potentially send them looking for new opportunities. They should also find out what could motivate them to stick around, he added.

To arrive at its findings, Leadership IQ looked at data from 207 companies that kept detailed records of both performance evaluations and engagement surveys. The result - low performers were more engaged. The data clearly supports the premise that a lack of Leadership and under management causes this negative phenomena.

In the rarest cases, Murphy said, the middle performers were the most engaged. A segment of the workforce - the employees who are neither superstars nor slackers - tend to be ignored by managers, he said.

Leadership IQ also looked into the specific dynamics of one company, a 1,000 person technology - services firm, where low performers reported high levels of engagement. It found that, on a 7-point scale, low performers gave a 5.99 score when rating the statement. "I am motivated to give 100% effort when I'm at work." High performers gave an aggregate score of 5.36 and middle performers' score was 5.32 - the lowest.

Low performers were also more likely than the other two groups to recommend their company as a "great organization to work for." And in many cases, they didn't even realize they were low performers.

When asked whether the employees at the company "all live up to the same standards," low performers were far more likely to agree with the statement than their higher-achieving counterparts.

Pinnacle's Commentary:

This is a non-motivated workforce supply chain (all managers and their team members) that work every day through extremely high levels of daily frustration.

This, we are sure, is evidenced in the morale surveys and the lack of accountability by too many managers and their team members.

The return on investment in this type of mind set and performance paradigm is less than $35 dollars on every $100 dollars invested.

Unfortunately, this negative mind-set exists in every company and its organizations in the USA and is fueled by the 80/20 Human Capital performance rule – only 20% top performers.

Pinnacle’s, statistic based patented technology has the capability of pivoting the negative non - engaged performance paradigm in the article above into a highly engaged workforce supply chain.

The performance outcome will be - consistent monthly overachievement of all customer and business objectives while significantly increasing daily productivity run-rates.


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