I have a former direct report (who shall remain nameless) who decided that since she’d submitted her two-week notice, that she could pretty much do nothing for 10 business days. This isn’t uncommon and I have experienced this far too many times in the workplace. I would stress the importance of consistently performing well and remaining professional with team members because I understand what happens behind closed doors with leaders. We discuss relevant, pertinent business information including the people who support us and report to us. We can advocate for you as our team member because we interact with others across the organization. This nugget of information is disregarded by employees until they find themselves wanting something other than where they are in terms of career.
Recently, I was contacted by a former direct report who was being interviewed for another role within the organization. The hiring manager stated in his interview, “So, you reported to Ericka? I know her VERY well”. Of course, my former direct report contacted me after the interview to suggest that the hiring manager was “probably” going to contact me and he also asked me to “put in a good word for him”. You know where this story is going, right? I shared with this nice young man that I would be honest with the hiring manager if he contacted me. I would be more than happy to share his strengths and what he did well when he reported to me, but his area of opportunity was consistency. My former direct report fell victim to being an inconsistent performer and we’d had those conversations numerous times when he reported to me. The danger in being inconsistent has consequences, both short-term and long-term, so please choose to be a consistent performer.
One danger associated with inconsistent performance is the impact you have on your salary. In any organization that I’ve worked for, those who perform the best, tend to reap better financial rewards than those who don’t perform well. When you are stellar this month, average the next month, and somewhere in between the following month, you are negatively impacting the amount of money you could make in commission, applicable bonuses, and annual salary increases. Why go to work if you don’t intend to make money?
Another danger associated with inconsistent performance is the impact on your reputation. If I as a leader can’t count on you to do your job consistently, I can’t advocate for you and expose you to others within the organization. Not only do I have to consider what you will do that could negatively impact you; I also have to consider how your inconsistent performance impacts myself and others.
There is also a possibility that inconsistent performance will result in disciplinary action. One of the major frustrations for me as a leader is to see capable people settle for being subpar. I spent too much time filling out corrective action forms and development plans for people who could actually do my job, even though they reported to me! The danger of inconsistent performance and corrective action could lead to termination and in this economy; none of us can afford to take that risk.
Inconsistent performers may not understand the dangers of their actions at the time, but the negative consequences are very real. Those who are inconsistent can’t be counted on and if your employer can’t count on you, danger could be closer than you think. Choose to be consistent and be the best employee you can be because the alternative isn’t really worth it.
More from this contributor:
The Introvert Goes to Work
5 Ways to Gain a Competitive Advantage
How I Decrease Stress and Increase Productivity