The Best Ways to Deal with C Level Performers


Who are C Level Performers? What are the Types of C Level Performers?

Who are C Level performers? Are they rank underperformers who cannot be helped? Or, are they simply not motivated enough to perform?

Moreover, how many types of C level performers do we come across in corporates?

The answers to these questions can be found in the way C level performers are defined and categorized and the approaches managers should take to deal with them.

Before we proceed further, it is important to define or categorize who the C level performers are. To start with, C level performers are those who consistently come at the bottom of the performance heap and even after due warning and feedback, fail to raise their performance.

Next, there are 3 types of C level performers.

  1. One, those who are simply not competent enough for the role that has been chosen for them and it is their sheer incompetence that holds them back from delivering good performance.

  2. Second, there are those who are not motivated enough to perform according to expectations and can be listless and lackluster in their on the job work.

  3. Third, another type is those with poor people skills, though they perform consistently well.

  1. The Peter Pan Principle: Raising To Your Level of Incompetency!

    So, there you are. These 3 types of C level performers often are a “drag” on the teams they belong to and by extension, are deadweight for the organizations in which they work.

    Given these aspects, it is tempting for managers and the HR (Human Resources) personnel to give the C level performers marching orders, or, in other words, fire them and dismiss them after due chances have been given. However, as our main argument in this article is about how C level performers can be made to add value to the organizations by mentoring, coaching, realigning and reassigning job roles and work duties.

    Moreover, it is our case that C level performers need not necessarily be dismissed as they can add value by improving their performance. To start with, those employees who are not competent enough for the roles can be assigned to other roles where they are a better fit.

    Indeed, in our working experience, we have come across C level performers who have been shifted to other functions such as Finance or HR, once our senior managers realized that they are more suited for such roles than typical coding and programming work, where they were found wanting.

    Improving Performance
  2. The De-Motivated and the Disengaged C Level Performer and Why They are Deadweight

    Having said that, merely reassigning roles is not the solution for the second category of C level performers, who need mentoring and coaching to make them more motivated. In this type of poor performers, it is not only the motivation but also the disengagement which is the challenge and this needs to be addressed as well.

    However, as the saying goes, one can only take the Horse to the lake to drink water, but cannot force it to quench its thirst. So, it goes without saying that this type of C level performers should be given due chances and should be dismissed if they fail to better their performance, even after being placed on a PIP or Performance Improvement Plan.

    In other words, it is all about managers doing their best to mentor, coach, and motivate this type of C level performers and then, showing the stick if these approaches fail. In our experience, we have found that sometimes dismissal is the best course as one of our senior execs once put it, that all of us should find our own niches, instead of others telling them what to do. Perhaps, those who are let go would find their fit.

  3. The Good Performer with Terrible Soft/People Skills: How to Deal with Them

    On the other hand, not all C level performers are poor performers according to the appraisal grading system. Indeed, the third type of C level performers are those who are above par and who lack people skills, that often becomes a problem for their managers and coworkers. This type of C level performers are those who’s grades are good, and soft skills terrible, thereby negating their contributions to the organizations.

    What is the use of inventing something if you cannot get your peers and others to derive benefit from it, as you lack empathy, Emotional Intelligence, and people skills, all traits that are needed for smooth running of teams and organizations?

    In such cases, it is better for this type of C level performers to be given roles or assigned tasks that need little or no people coordination and communication.

    We did come across such individuals in our careers who moved to R&D or Research and Development or who worked solo on projects. Of course, these are just band aid solutions and the longer term goal should be to let such individuals know that they must shape up or ship out as far as their soft people skills are concerned.

Corporates are Not Charity Shows and Not Tolerate C Level Performers

Last, it goes without saying that no organization should tolerate poor performance for longer than necessary and so, it is inevitable that the C level performers must be let go at some point. The decision is no doubt difficult and it must be taken after due diligence is done and the employees in question have been given chances, and the benefit of doubt.

Moreover, there is always the risk of even good performers being affected by the C level performers. To conclude, C level performers can and should raise their game, failing which they must be politely asked to leave.


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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.