You Can’t Always Rehabilitate a Bad Team Member

By April 18, 2013Uncategorized
Don't wait too long to fire a bad employee

Don't wait too long to fire a bad employeeI have always been attracted to learning about leadership. Partly because I seem to have been placed in leadership positions throughout my life as a young scout, as an athlete and in my church youth groups. I often felt proud, but undeserving of the position.


Somewhere I developed the belief that a team member’s failure was mostly due to poor leadership: me. I thought that my job as a leader is always to develop the team. I would take a team member’s lack of development as a personal failure, even though it was the choice that the team member made. I never consciously recognized it until much later and after many failed attempts to “rehabilitate” a poorly matched employee.


Therefore, I often worked too long with an employee long after it was evident to everyone else that he/she had to go. It made bad situations worse.


But I did learn the consequences of lingering too long with a mismatched employee:


  1. Undermines authority. Employees keep score. They know when a bad employee should go often before the leader does. When you as a leader do not recognize it, they lose confidence in you. Not only do you begin to lose the whole team, but the employee you are trying to help doubts you will follow-through with any consequences you provide them.
  2. Wastes time. If you are spending too much time with a problem employee, other team members who are doing good things are not being recognized. In addition, it distracts you from your responsibilities.
  3. Develops resentment. While your team loses confidence in you, they still have to work with the problem. Eventually they begin to resent you for it.
  4. Wastes money. I recently heard a study that turn-over in any position costs the business about 6 months of salary for that position. So if you are paying the employee $40,000/yr (about $20/hr) you will lose $20,000 in turn-over costs – including missed revenue.

After Monday’s post, I am sure many of you think I am a hatchet-man. I disagree. I have learned through my own failures the balance between Leadership and Management. There is a time to lead someone, but there is a time to manage them out the door.

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