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Poor Performers...Why?

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My son is gluten intolerant. NOT coeliac (thankfully), but him and wheat definitely don't get on. We discovered this about 2 years ago, when he was 7... after we had put up 2 years of bad behaviour from him!

He would throw tantrums out of the blue, be nasty, get upset for no reason, complain of tummy ache, refuse to go to bed and be generally horrible. We even labelled his behaviour as 'grumping'. We tried many ways to deal with it: reward charts and incentives; clear rules and punishments, ignoring it, shouting, cuddling. Nothing worked. We just assumed that we had a 'difficult' child.


Because we weren't prepared to give up on him (becuase despite everything we still loved him to pieces!), we started to become aware of patterns. It wasn't just before bedtime, or when he supposed to read. It was when he had had a wheat-heavy day. Beaver camp sealed it for us: weetabix for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and pasta for tea, with biscuits in between. He came home saying he'd had stomach ache all day and was in a foul mood.

We cut wheat from his diet and within 2 days, he was a different boy. Obviously he still has the odd 'strop', (he's a nine-year old boy), but his behaviour is much improved and well within what's normal.

So what's the moral of this story? 

Poor performance has an underlying cause. It may not be obvious (even to the person who is the problem), but there is something that's getting in the way.

For managers, dealing with poor performance is time consuming, difficult and energy-sapping. You can feel that you are banging your head against a brick wall. The 'threats', training and counselling don't change anything. Maybe that's because the root cause is still a mystery.

Generally at work, most poor performance can be attributed to:

  • Lack of clarity about what's expected
  • Lack of knowledge/skill
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of resources


But these aren't the only causes. You can't solve a problem until you know what problem to solve. Once you've got the right starting point, you can turn performance around. Find out how with our Manage Underperformance Module or Performance Management Bundle.

Alternatively, why not check out our Prezi on this topic?

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