The leadership cop-out, the employee hot potato
Posted by Meg Bear on December 3, 2008
Dan was talking this week about how real leaders do the right thing, even (or especially) when it means that you have to let a poor performer go. You all know that I’m a big believer in job fit. Finding a role that leverages your strengths is critical for success. For some, finding the right role can be a process of trial and error, using our failures to course correct is a part of personal growth. Sometimes coaching and role adjustment can turn a lack-luster performer into a star. But we all know that there are times when the problem is not just job fit, it is job attitude.
When an individual has a negative attitude you are dealing with a cancer that impacts the whole team. It is the job of the manager to resolve the situation quickly and fairly. Too often, weak managers resolve their situation by creating an employee hot potato. These disgruntled employees find themselves sharing (and often compounding) their negative attitudes across multiple groups as they bounce from manager to manager, each too weak to take action.
Moving performance problems around the organization is one of the worse kinds of management cop-outs. It is not honest for the individual and it is not good for the company. It is not leadership, it’s cowardly.
I am well aware that the process of resolving performance problems takes considered thought and diligence. Even when attempting to do the right thing, it is often not black and white. We all want to make sure we have given enough chances to the employee and have done our best to coach them to improvement. I would not want anyone to take this process lightly. I would just like to encourage you all to make sure you are honest with yourselves that you are not perpetuating performance problems in other groups, because you are too lazy to deal with them yourself.
If you are not sure, get help from your HR team. HR professionals can support you through the tough job of coaching the team member to acceptable performance or terminating. It is the role of HR to make sure that the process is fair for the employee, the impacted team and the company.
Repeat after me, no more employee hot potatoes!