In a recent Gallup Poll of more than 80,000 American employees, 32 percent self-reported being actively engaged and committed to their work and workplace, while 51 percent indicated being passively disengaged and a terrifying 17 percent admitted to being actively disengaged and trying to cause problems.

To maximize performance, productivity and profitability, you must adjust your leadership strategies to fit the individual and situation. Based on the five types of people I describe in Navigate: Understanding the Five Types of People, I recommend the following approaches:

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High Flyers — Dream employees, High Flyers are extremely reliable, conscientious and driven. Tasks are completed well and on time. They make leadership look easy. All you have to do is assign a task, give clear directives and provide the resources they need to complete it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. To best lead High Flyers:

  • Refrain from rewarding them with more work.
  • Protect them from burnout by empowering them to say no and keeping them in the sweet spots where they most easily soar.
  • Reward them with wages that reflect their outstanding work and occasionally surprise them with things like bonuses, experiences or time off.

Steady Gliders — These reliable, hardworking and conscientious first cousins to High Flyers, Steady Gliders often fly under the radar and are often underappreciated and underutilized. Tips for lifting them higher:

  • Mentor by finding and developing their talents, providing opportunities and sharing your knowledge, skills and expertise.
  • Encourage them by reminding them of things they have previously accomplished, affirming the qualities you see in them, telling them you believe in them and know they will succeed.
  • Acknowledge and reward their courage and efforts as they push themselves and take risks.

Lackers — Underperforming employees who are missing a mindset or skillset needed to be productive and successful. To empower Lackers to overcome what holds them back:

  • Through meaningful conversation identify why things aren’t getting done.
  • Remediate skillset deficiencies by providing additional training and encourage them to overcome mindset deficits through working with a counselor or coach.
  • Ensure they come up to speed by providing accountability.

Slackers — Passively disengaged, Slackers force others into working harder. While they may be lazy, far more often they are Rockets in need of a countdown for their engines to fire and lift off to occur.

  • Clarify their job and its importance to you, to the team and to organizational success.
  • Enforce deadlines that provide breathing room if the ball gets dropped due to their immaturity or inability to accurately estimate how long tasks take.
  • Safeguard standards by holding them accountable for turning in quality work.

Hackers — Actively trying to cause problems, hidden Hackers drop innuendos, lie, and undermine your authority when you aren’t around. Conversely, overt Hackers create chaos and fear by exploding, attacking, belittling and making snide remarks. Lying, stealing and sabotage are additional tools in their arsenal.

  • Solve problems by addressing inappropriate behaviors and clearly state they will not be tolerated.
  • Manage problems you lack the power to solve by doing such things as assigning them less critical responsibilities, having them work from home or not allowing them to interact with customers.
  • Terminate when Hackers refuse to stop engaging in destructive behaviors.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for leading your team. If you want fully engaged and empowered employees you must protect and reward your High-Flyers; mentor and encourage your Steady Gliders; hold your Lackers accountable for coming up to speed; turn your Slackers into Rockets who pull their weight; and, refuse to allow Hackers to corrupt and hijack your team and business.

Dr. Sherene McHenry boosts your People IQ™ so you can increase purpose, productivity and profitability. Learn more about her services and get your copy of Navigate: Understanding the Five Types of People at