How do you handle the weak links on your staff? My guess is that in most cases you wait too long to take appropriate action. No matter what your experience is, it’s human to avoid conflict, and weak links are, de facto, conflicts.
You know the basics: can the employee improve from skills training? Would the person be a better fit in another department in the organization? Can the person benefit from one-on-one mentoring?
More often than not, you go through these steps without receiving a desired outcome. This is where the dynamic shifts. Leaders and their managers become the accountable parties. Often, they procrastinate dealing with the inevitable. I think they secretly hope that the faltering employee will see the writing on the wall and resign.
The longer that management does nothing, the more that their indecisiveness touches every key stakeholder who works with this person. And the longer the indecision, the greater the unintended consequences will be.
For example, negative morale can spread quickly through the staff. Whether they are covering for the person or building resentment because of management inaction, they are affected. The loss of productivity and simmering antipathy has a cost.
A team can’t wobble indefinitely. And it will become fractured if key stakeholders become flight risks and resign from the organization out of frustration.
Protracted paralysis over a weak link becomes a denunciation of leadership more than criticism of the person’s failings. And the longer it takes to resolve, the longer it will take to rebuild. No one wins.
Importantly, this is not to endorse firing someone without trying one or more of the remediations mentioned above. Rather, it is to alert leaders to the repercussions of prolonged inaction.
The key is to stay out of paralysis and to act. Then everyone can move forward. Both the exiting employee and the affected stakeholders will be relieved. Act compassionately and reaffirm the course ahead to ensure that all are on the same page.
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