BLUF: If my weakest performer needs help meeting deadlines and completing deliverables, how do I spend less time with her and more time with my top performers - as MT (and common sense) suggests?


I was recently (<1 month ago) promoted to a manager position, where I am managing a few of my former peers as well as a few new hires.  One of the former peers is turning out to be weaker than I thought she was, and I'm finding that I have to spend more time working with her to meet deliverables and deadlines and therefore less time with my better performers (not to mention the new hires, who need onboarding-type training as well, some of which I've delegated to the top performers).

How do I ensure that I'm spending my time with the top performers, not the bottom ones?  At the same time, the bottom performer has been with the company for a while (perhaps 2x as long as the rest of the team combined) and her past performance reviews suggest that she's average to above-average, so what am I missing??

jdpm311's picture

I'm a few months ahead of you in what may be a similar situation.  

A few observations to take with a grain of salt.  I'm new to the MT world and have transitioned from straight project management to people management.  A different ballgame indeed.  Projects don't have feelings!

1) I came from a situation where I was part of the team to managing the team - same as you.  You gain insight and perspective as a team member that the previous manager may not have had.  It's important to remember what you have learned as a peer, but also give a clean slate upon your promotion.  If what you see going forward falls in line with what you saw in the past, good.  If not, then you'll be glad you didn't drag your old beliefs forward.  This is extremely hard to do.  I'm still working on it.

2) Past reviews - .  In my situation, everyone was rated "good" with little to no feedback for improvement.   Literally everyone, from our superstar to our worst performer.  Do I trust those past reviews as a solid basis?  Heck no!

Do the past reviews for your longest tenured employee provide any specifics as to why she was rated above average?  If so, you need to read those and see if they fall in line with the behavior you're observing.  Don't forget, she may have been an above average talent at one point, but people can change and performance can change, especially if you've had a management shake-up or the dynamics of the organization or dept. have changed.

3) Spending more time - hopefully your coaching efforts will pay off and your underperformer will rise to the occassion, which should leave you with more time. 

As mentioned in the podcasts - don't have to implement everything at once, nor should you.  I think your time will open more as you get some of these more immediate needs met.  Hang in there.

DiogenesPerez's picture
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My advice is to Start with One on Ones immediately if you haven't do so.

There're several podcasts that will certainly help you much better than anything I can write:

How manage a disgruntled non-promoted direct: This might be a reason why you sense low performance from a senior direct (former peer)
Inheriting a poor performer: This is something your previous Manager might won’t tell you.

 JDPM311 Is right plus with less than a month as a Manager you need to redefine the relationship with almost everyone in the company (hence the One on Ones).

Also remember you leave bottom performers in the bottom of your list for coaching, that doesn't include One on Ones, nor feedback (even if you don't follow the model).

Hope this helps.