Do You Participate in “Passing the Trash”?

In a hallway conversation Alberta said to a peer, “I’m having trouble with Wilks (an employee).  The Western Division manager highly recommended him.  He said Wilks would like to move to my territory because it was closer to home. I think Wilks is capable but his performance is pretty weak.”

The peer responded, “Well, why don’t you recommend him to another department?”

“I’ve thought about it.  It’s going to be hard to terminate Wilks.  Maybe he would work better under a different manager.”

Alberta faces a common dilemma.  If she recommends Wilks to another group, Alberta is just passing the problem along.  If Alberta recommends termination for Wilks, it looks like she is unable to get Wilks to perform.  Recall Wilk’s previous manager gave him a good recommendation.  If Alberta accepts Wilks’ sub-par performance, it will be unfair to others in her group.

I suggest that Alberta communicate clear expectations to Wilks.  If Wilks does not meet these expectations, he would be subject to consequences–including termination.  Alberta should also communicate to the Western Division Manager and to her immediate manager what she plans to do.

Because of the energy and effort it takes to terminate employees, I think too many large organizations handle problematic employees by continuing to move them from one position to another.  Employees refer to a once-popular card game–“Pass the Trash,”–to label this management practice.


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