There is an interesting phenomenon that happens with under performers. It is called the avoidance syndrome. You’ve probably heard of this… This is when consultants know exactly what they should be doing, but spend their time doing everything else instead. As managers we know that that behavior is not going to get them results. But the consultants don’t always get this.

As part of recruitment manager training, I recently held a survey asking what the biggest challenge was for  managers. The survey results showed that underperformers were one of the top challenges. And typical to most under performers is the avoidance syndrome. For managers, a big part of learning to help underperformers is learning how they think. When you understand positive intention and the avoidance syndrome it can help you get underperformers back on track.


“Your team does a lot of work – but they could do better. “ 

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Why Underperformers Avoid Tasks

With the ‘avoidance syndrome’ consultants are busy with activities. It may not be the activities that are going to bring results but still they are busy. This makes them feel comfortable that they are still being productive. Even though they know they should be picking up the phone, they find every reason not to, because it makes them uncomfortable. As long as they are busy they don’t have to feel bad about avoiding the tasks they should be doing. As long as they feel they have a positive intention they think they are doing okay.

Keep in mind that underperformers usually are already in a place of low self confidence. Expecting them to do something outside of their comfort zone almost makes them freeze up. They feel incapable of doing it so they avoid the task.

The Recruitment Manager’s Task:

1)  Our job is to accept that their present behaviour is the best choice available to them:

And support and assist them to change their behaviour. Then with that as a foundation we help them get out of the rut of avoidance syndrome and help get them back on track to achieving results.

2)  Firstly give them direction:

Help them understand that the tasks they are busy with aren’t delivering results. Help them to understand that they need to change direction and start doing things differently.



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3)  With under performers it’s not enough to tell them what to do, you have to show them HOW to do it!

Then break tasks down into bite sized chunks. Don’t just tell them they need to get on the phone and call clients. Show them how to introduce themselves, start a conversation with clients and find out their needs. Go through the whole process step by step so that they can start to gain a level of confidence.

4)  Remember you’re forcing them out of their comfort zone

If given half an opportunity they will revert back to avoidance.  You need to be there with them at key steps of the way, coaching and mentoring them. Your presence will also serve as a reminder that it is not enough to just be busy. They have to be busy getting results.

I hope you found this article useful.

If you want to learn how to set up your business, so that it stops under-performance once and for all, then join my free webinar:  The 5 Secrets Our Clients Use to Build 7 & 8 Figure Recruitment Businesses