Managers – Are You Spending Time With The Right People?

If you have a bad apple on your team, is it better to try and salvage the person or just get rid of that person? How much time should I spend with this person?”

I was asked that by a department head at a leadership workshop who was frustrated with a staff person dragging her feet in getting things done and therefore dragging the team down.

I’ve coached several managers who truly believed it’s their job to try to “save” everyone – spending an enormous amount of time with poor or marginal performers to make them better. But, is that wise?

Not according to a very effective CEO of a health care company. She said:

“The top commodity a manager has is his or her time. And, if you waste too much of it on a lost cause, you’re turning yourself into overhead – costing the company money – rather than a profit center – contributing to the success of the organization.”

She suggests dividing your employees into three categories. Then evaluate where you spend the majority of your time and resources. Is it with the:

  • 1st is Eagles: Those are your top performers who fly and soar – you know they are going to do well no matter what.
  • 2nd is Robins: Those are folks who come to work and get the job done, but who don’t rise to the top. They are steady workers, who could add value.
  • 3rd is Turkeys: They are poor or marginal performers who need to get better – or else. Unfortunately, they may be nice folks who no longer can keep up with the changing times or are in the wrong position for their skills.

How Do You Spend Your Time?

Many managers, perhaps including you, say a lion’s share of their time goes to the improving performance of their staff and that’s not good!

Smart Moves Tip:

A better approach is first to attract, hire and retain awesome people, to begin with – not just warm bodies. Then spend most of your time encouraging the eagles to keep soaring and developing the robins to become eagles. If you do have a poor performer on your team, then quickly decide whether it’s worth your time to salvage that person or help him or her to move on to a job that’s a better fit.

Remember, your time is your most valuable resource. Don’t squander it. Manage it well! Also see Good Boss, Bad Boss: Which One Are You? and Are You Rewarding the Right People?

As a manager, who do you spend most of your time with – your stars or your turkeys? Are your stars getting the attention and the recognition they would like?

What’s Your Specific Challenge?

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Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidlehttp://www.smartmovescoach.com
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!


  1. Marcia, great reminder that we need to think about how we’re spending out time with employees. Do you have any good strategies for determining if turkeys are salvageable or should managers just go with their guts?

  2. Some good points. People spend time with those they like and that are like them. People will also hire people they like and that are like them.

    When someone isn’t a fit, it usually means that they can can do the job, but they are either not liked or not like the people they work with.

    This is why I like hiring based on potential and the needed investment (financially and emotionally) to tap into that potential. People give more leeway when they consider potential and the end game in mind. They are more tolerant of differences.