Terminate or Tolerate?


A manager said to me, ““I assumed leadership of a department of sixteen people about three months ago.  Most are reliable performers.  A few are really good and one is marginal at best.”

“Would your team be better off if the marginal employee were gone?” I asked.

“No question, much better off.”

“Then why don’t you work with your human resources’ manager to professionally remove the employee?”

“The employee is sixty three years old.  He was one of the first persons hired almost twenty years ago when the department was formed.  There is scant chance of removing him.”

“Have you tried training and coaching?”

“He’s not really interested in getting better.  I think he’s just holding on for a couple of years until he retires.”

When dealing with a persistent, low performer whom you cannot terminate, I think you just have to learn to tolerate the employee.

Be respectful of the low performer as a person, but do not waste time attempting to train, motivate, encourage, or improve the person’s attitude.  Minimize disruptions as much as possible.  Find work-arounds when you have to.  Understand that you may have to check more often than you would like.   Quit worrying about it.

 

2 thoughts on “Terminate or Tolerate?

  1. How do you explain this to your other employees? Why does Bob get off the hook for performance requirements and they don’t. How do you avoid performance slippage all around by tolerating?

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    • Jessica, thank you for your comment. My preference would be to professionally terminate the low-performing employee, and I agree that it creates problems of the type you mentioned if the person stays on. I am aware, however, that for whatever reasons, some organizations make it near impossible to terminate some low-producing employees. The suggestion for “tolerating” an employee that you cannot get support for terminating hopes to avoid making the situation an even greater distraction than it already is.

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