5 Ways To Manage Under Performers

A CTOs guide to improving their teams

James Williams


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Right off the bat, I would like to give my first piece of advice. Never saddle high performers with underperformers. Almost always, it makes your star performers worse.

It’s not easy to build a team that can take a company to the next level. The best leaders engineer their teams with precision. They consider personalities and skillsets equally. The trick is to put super-smart people together that have built-in chemistry. When I build teams, I imagine who will go to lunch together, naturally.

If it just happens, you don’t need team-building exercises. In my opinion, team-building exercises are just admitting that the team isn’t built the right way in the first place.

It’s like planning fun where you tell people when to smile and laugh.


You don’t always have the option to build a team from the ground up. Sometimes you inherit crappy, inefficient teams.

There are a lot of great techniques, books, and coaches. And, most of it works. This article gives you insight into things I have tried that worked.

Here are my top 5 tips to turn under performers into stars.

Have A Direct Conversation

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You can’t get around this. The bottom line is most people don’t know they are underperforming. So, you have to tell them. A big mistake is to soften the bad news with metaphors.

In my experience, I would try to give poor performers analogies. Somehow, I wanted to try and motivate them but also tell them they weren’t doing well. I learned through coaching that this is a flawed strategy.

This tactic leaves people confused. I recall one conversation where the person asked for a raise. The timing couldn’t have been more imperfectly perfect.

These conversations should be brief. If you have well-defined goals(mentioned at the bottom), this conversation is relatively easy.



James Williams

Founder of COFEBE, Inc. We build tools that make engineer’s jobs easier. https://www.cofebe.com