Its not just the results that matter

A lot of companies only look at results when evaluating employees. To me these are just two parts which work in circular motion. The effort drives the results and the results eventually drive the next set of effort from the employee. Specifically, I can think of 4 cases where companies must look at results and the effort that got those results.

Low Effort, Low Results

Some companies may ignore this due to the fact that effort put in was low so it is obvious that the results should also be low. What they need to do is ask why this was so. Usually employees in this bracket are either not motivated or not challenged.

Not Motivated

An employee could be not motivated due to professional or personal reasons.


Even professionally, there could be a number of reasons why the employee is in this bracket.

Not the Desired Job

Maybe this job is not what they want to do. If this is the case, companies need to figure out what is it that they want to do? Can their desired role be provided? This should have been caught at the time of bringing them on board. But now that it has been missed, this should be corrected. If there is no job in the company that the employee can do, then there needs to be a separation after discussions and mutual agreement. It will be wise for the company to help the employee with the job hunt by referring them to their partners, vendors and clients who may have positions where the employee fits in well.

Not Skilled

Maybe the employee does not have the correct skills to do the job. Is it something that can be taught in a reasonable time? If it is, let’s work on it. If not, then this is not a correct fit. Figure out what is it that the employee is able to do and move them there.

Fear of Failure

Maybe this is the first time the employee is doing this job and they he does not see adequate help. So there is fear of failure. This can be fixed by active mentoring. Initially it will require some time from the mentor to encourage the employee to take the first step. This first step needs to be scaffolded so that the employee is set up for success. Success will give the much needed confidence which will intrinsically motivate the employee to move forward. After this, the mentor needs to guide the employee enough so that this confidence keeps building. Once the employee demonstrates that he can work alone, the training wheels can come off and the mentor only needs to do regular checkpoints from that point on.


There is something going on in their personal life that is not motivating them to perform. Talk to them. Most companies just recommend a time off for the employee at this time. While time off is good, it is not the complete solution. Does the employee even know how to fix the situation? Is there anything that the company can do to assist the employee in taking care of the situation? If the company cannot do anything directly, can they refer the employee to someone else for help? The company’s duty does not end after the referral. The company should continue to follow up on the progress and see if the situation is being fixed. While this can be a time consuming process, the company should view this time as an investment in the employee. Once the situation is fixed, the employee will have tremendous loyalty for the company and will be highly motivated.

Not Challenged

Maybe this job is too simple for the employee. Talk to him to figure out what is it that will challenge them. There may be a trial and error period to try to find the right amount of challenge.

Low Effort, High Results

Here we are dealing with a genius. What this usually means is that the employee is not challenged at what he is doing. This will quickly result in boredom for him/her and if not handled quickly, he/she will eventually resign.

High Effort, Low Results

Employees in this category are probably in the wrong job or not trained enough. If it is a training issue, it needs to be taken care of quickly. Training could be in class or require hand holding or both. Even after the training, the employee may require some mentoring and hand holding to gain much needed confidence.

If it turns out that the employee is in the wrong job, then the company and the employee together need to find a position that suits the employee’s skill sets. As mentioned earlier, if there is nothing there, then separation needs to happen. It has to be mutual after a lot of discussions. Again, it is best if the company can help the employee with the next job hunt by referring him to clients, vendors and partners who may have the required position.

High Effort, High Results

This is a normal scenario and quite common. But if this persists for a while then the employees will be overworked and will burn out soon. If somehow they do manage to hang on, their expectation of rewards will be exorbitant which may not be possible or reasonable for a company to dole out. To prevent these scenarios, it is imperative to address this situation as quickly as possible. There are only two solutions to this problem and unfortunately both can get costly but it is required to take one of the options.

  • Add people to the project to take up some of the extra work that the existing team is working on
  • Delay the project to make the working hours more employee friendly

As you can see from each case, that such instances need to be taken care of immediately. Otherwise, the negativity from the employee being affected will rub on other employees too eventually resulting in high employee turnover for the company.



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