Making the Tough Calls

Dealing with problem employees

Leadership growth covers a lot of territory. There are so many dimensions to consider when growing and perfecting your leadership style and effectiveness. At some point you reach a conflict. What do you do about the loud rebel on your team?

As much as I like to talk about servant leadership and the preferred ways it inspires and motivates teams, there will come a time when you reach an impasse with an employee. There is no avoiding the inevitable moment when it becomes clear that there is someone on your team who will no longer fit.
 
Regardless of the skill sets and certifications present on your team, you will always have a bell curve of talent distribution. You can choose whichever attributes you want to plot this curve. You still have variations on the levels of contribution, cooperation, cohesiveness, and collaboration from each member of the team. On any given day, someone is on the bottom end of your curve, proving to be the weaker link in the chain.
 
Depending on the severity of the outcomes from this weakest member, you may need to face up to the need to make a change. Are they causing disruption? Disharmony? Discontent? Or are they merely a weaker contributor who might rise up with some coaching and additional development? If the latter, you can endure the season. If the former, you may need to make a change.

What do you do?

First, be ever-mindful of the impact each employee can have on the whole team. “One bad apple” applies here. The longer you allow a malcontent to cause disruption, the more the team begins to resent the bad behavior. They don’t deserve that negative environment.
 
Hostilities can boil over. A person who perpetually argues with the boss and others causes a great deal of discomfort. People stop wanting to go to work.
 
Likewise, the employee who is needing his work rechecked or re-done by colleagues wears thin their welcome on the team. It can cause resentment.
 
If you are the leader with control of the situation, you owe it to the rest of the team to act swiftly.
 
Next, as you begin making the final decision, you have the obligatory HR issues to consider. Depending on the size of your organization, your documentation requirements may vary. But document you must. Get your facts together and strip away emotions, your emotions.
 
If your frustration with this person has grown, it means you waited too long to act. Make the call and get it done.

Handling the grief

Now, once you get to the place that firing employees is no big deal, you have gone too far. Making a termination decision should always carry weight. Granted, some decisions are easier to than others, but they should all give you pause right before you pull the trigger (figuratively of course).
 
Yet, rest assured that the team will respect you for making the tough call. They too, if you could ask them to admit, would want you to take every measure to make things work out. But when they don’t work, a person has to go.
 
Being the one making the call and giving the news makes your job stink. Yet, the duty comes with the territory. You have to make swift and accurate termination decisions. Though these can be harder sometimes.

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