Don’t be a Coward

What do you do when someone doesn’t fit on your team? (hint: don’t be a coward)

You, like many other people in leadership roles, will inevitably be faced with a situation where someone on your team is a horrible fit. It’s a hard conclusion to reach, but it will slap you in the face.

Misalignment among team members is common while approaching the issue head on is quite rare. Many managers see these situations and justify inaction with phrases like:

  • maybe the problem will self-correct
  • they’ll fall in line eventually
  • different perspectives are good for innovation
  • they bring in enough revenue to offset their attitude
  • or my personal favorite: give them some time

These are all just excuses to do nothing. Hey, I get it, don’t ruffle feathers. Let the team self manage and eventually the person will leave because they know they don’t fit in.

The huge problem will this mentality is you are wasting precious time, resources, and emotions on someone that is an obvious bad fit. While it may correct itself in the coming weeks or months, you have failed to realize the impact to the continuity and productivity of your team.

How do you know someone is a bad fit? You know.

It is easily to see if someone has failed to assimilate to the role they are in. They will be obvious confrontation and dips in performance when teams are misaligned. Too often people in leadership roles justify doing nothing in an effort to keep the applecart righted, no matter how many rotten apples are on it. This sort of ‘hands off melding’ is tantamount to corporately sponsored stupidity.

Doing nothing is the same as making the decision to put that person on that team daily. Every single day that goes by is on that you are condoning this person’s behavior and the team’s agitation.

You are probably wondering what to do now…

Don’t be a COWARD!

If you are in a leadership role, it is you obligation to your organization and to every employee that looks to you for guidance to remove people that are an ill-fit to you company. Take out the emotion, the worry, or the rationalizations.

Now, ask yourself one question: Is this person strengthening or weakening the bonds of our team?

You may try to run back to revenue based discussions about how much business they bring in or how many client relationships they hold. Don’t. When people are given a pass for their attitude or for not being part of the team, the rest of the organization suffers.

I recently saw this first hand. A client of mine had a long time employee that continually spread descent and gossip among their teams. He had been there for over 8 years and felt that rules and chains of command were not applicable to him (I bet this sounds familiar to many of you in leadership roles). This person had a huge list of clients and often refused to report his actions and intentions to his direct report manager. This person’s behavior was tolerated (read endorsed) for years. His department was suffering and had been suffering for so long that no one knew it could be different.

After meeting with my client and reviewing employee surveys, it became apparent that this person needed to go. I made the suggestion and the age old excuses reared their ugly head:

“He’s too valuable”, “He’s always been like that”, “He’s been here forever”, “People know to avoid him”, “Our clients are familiar with him”, or “We’ve found a way to make it work”.

None of these excuses justified the horribly negative impact this person had on those that work with or near him. He had to be let go.

With a sense of courage, the president of the company made the very difficult, but right decision to remove this person. With all the fear of losing clients, revenue, and the respect of his team he let this person go.

His initial prediction was that they would lose 18-25% of that department’s revenue and it would take 6 months or so to regain the lost ground. His predictions were quite wrong.

With this person gone, the department increase their revenue by 34% in the first quarter of his absence. Unbeknownst to the executive team, the department had been in a stranglehold by this one individual and they were finally free to pursue business without being thwarted or undermined.

In a later conversation, the president of this company told me, “If I had known how negatively this person was affecting the team, I would have let him go 7 years ago.”

My advice to you is to stop being cowardly. If someone is a bad fit for your team, don’t justify their existence. Be courageous and do whats right for your organization!

One Comment

  1. K Seshadri May 20, 2018 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Good Story. But how about a boss who is insensitive, and drive people with only profit motive, and has no time or interest about other aspects of leadership; like giving the employees a chance to self-determine their role, and strike a balance with the company objectives.

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