Many people are just in the wrong job, and sometimes need to be appraised for a different job more suited to their talents and interests in life, or just plain life style. There are those of us are prepared to work all of the hours that are available, and there are others that need to go to fetch the children from school or do community service and the job they have is only a means of reaching this goal. Both people are very important in any company because if one can imagine in some utopian society somewhere in our world we had 100% of the employees as excellent performers and we had no under performers how would the company function?
But the under performers may not really be under performers, it is just that their jobs are more easily filled due to the nature of the position or are not seen as important and therefore become classified as under performers. For example do we see the CEO of the company with more ability than an aircraft mechanic who ensures our safety every time we get on an airplane? I would say no but each person is vitally important to the success of say an airline. But it is easier to replace the aircraft mechanic than the CEO yet if the CEO makes a policy decision that affects the performance of the mechanic to save money and in his minds eye and the plane has an accident because the mechanic is doing the best he can with the tools he has he will be fired and possible go to jail, but the CEO is seen as a high performer because he saved the company money and enhanced his bonus, instead of ensuring that the quality of the product was as good as it could be with the resources and tools required for the task at hand. The loss of the lives and aircraft are all covered by insurance. And now the high performer is looked upon as a model person.
And I understand that at each level people/employees need to be evaluated from the CEO to the person who cleans the bathrooms. And a bad CEO is just as much of a problem as a bad bathroom cleaner, or mail room clerk.
When I look at a company to see what makes them tick I always look at the top management and that is because the way the people at the top behave has a large bearing on what the rest of the company looks like. If the top managers are aggressive in the execution of their daily tasks (do not mean aggressive in execution I mean aggressive in personality) then you will find the employees in the company have exactly the same attitude. But many managers are unaware of this problem because they are too far removed from the action to even realize that there is a problem, and this is sometimes driven by the size of the company. But the hallmarks of performance are still there even if the horizon is out of sight.
One of the best examples of very effective very senior management is Richard Branson of Virgin. He is effective at so many levels because he is involved at some many levels, but his involvement is not to tell his other leaders and managers what to do but to ensure they have the tools to do what he wants them to do.
We need square pegs in square holes, and round pegs in round holes. Once this is achieved the company loyalty is raised 100% and from that comes improved performance.