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Busting myths: 7 things leaders say don’t impact employee performance


When it comes to leading people, there are common “red flags” about employee behavior that can be shared from leader to leader as things to watch out for. You know the phrase, “Watch out if you have an employee who…”

This can lead to some panic or concern if you do have an employee – or employees – that come to mind. And although there are some pretty solid examples of bad behavior – like ditching meetings all the time, missing deadlines or taking three-hour lunches every day – there are also some “red flags” that actually might just be myths.

So, what are the different employee attributes, behaviors and work styles that might seem like a big deal, but really don’t impact employee performance?

We took this question to Insperity leaders and asked them to break down any common misconceptions about “undesirable” employee behaviors that might not be worth focusing on or reading too far into.

7 common misconceptions that don’t typically impact employee performance

There are certain things leaders have found that actually don’t mean your employee’s performance is struggling or that a behavior change needs to occur. Of course, there are always exceptions, but generally speaking, consider these myths debunked!

1. They are (only) motivated by money

Using incentives like money to motivate employee performance isn’t a bad idea, but it’s not the only idea. Throwing money at a problem can be easier than taking the time to understand why someone is dissatisfied with their job. Consider the unique ways individual employees find motivation to do their best, and start there.

2. They don’t get their work done quickly

In a conversation with a bunch of leaders, the resounding advice was that it doesn’t matter what time they get the work done as long as the work gets done. Being the fastest doesn’t equate with being the top performance and vice versa.

Jill Chapman
Director, early talent programs

3. They don’t participate in team social events

Sometimes, an employee not attending social hours or after-hour work events is seen as the employee not being a team player. Still, in reality, with work-life integration and personal/professional boundaries, the employee may have any number of reasons for not attending, the least of which is likely not wanting to be a team player.

Abe Turner
Manager, brand advancement

4. They are less productive working remote

This remains a big debate – as leaders can’t see if their employees are sitting at their desk for the full eight hours of the workday. There’s not really a problem with employees going to appointments or getting their car inspected during work ours as long as they can demonstrate at the end of the week that they’ve met commitments and have provided quality, top-notch work. If their clients express satisfaction too, then everything is good.

5. They are too quiet to become leaders

There is this misconception that to be a leader you have to be the talkative, social type. However, there are many examples of quiet, strong and thoughtful individual contributors that, when noticed and encouraged, make strong, thoughtful leaders.

Adyna Akins
Manager, performance improvement

6. They never work late

It’s a lie that only employees who work longer hours are productive. Some employees can get the same amount of work done in six hours that another employee needs 10 hours to complete.

Michele Anderson
Manager, recruiting services

7. They always have their “door” closed

This could be a literal door, headphones always in or a “busy” icon on most of the time in chat. One may think that this person is non-social, unapproachable or potentially not getting their work done.  However, that person may be easily impacted by distractions of people walking by or interrupting them because of personal work styles or even because of medical reasons.

If that’s the case, it may be a good thing the door is “closed.” It would be helpful to their team for that individual to make their working preferences known and give a way to easily reach them when needed.

Michelle Kankousky
Employee experience designer

What to look for in good employee performance?

There are certain factors that you’re safe to look at when evaluating employee performance like:

  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Good time management
  • Consistency
  • Initiative

But, be weary of the common myths around how the best performing employee works to accomplish the above. Two employees can have very different styles of work and still be effective in showcasing the above factors.

Summing it up

Keep individual employees’ attributes and ability in mind when you’re thinking about employee performance. Don’t be quick to make assumptions based on some of the myths that were busted above. And, if you still have concerns about their performance, try to be proactive instead of reactive. To learn more about how to lead all types of people, download our free magazine, The Insperity Guide to Leadership and Management.