Nobody said managing poor performers would be easy. So don’t manage them.
Try these stranger-than-fiction methods of the truly cowardly:
• Try “team-building.” Instead of working one-on-one with the source of trouble, drag the whole group into “team-building” in hopes that your poor performer will improve.
• Test. Rather than sitting down with the employee and working through issues, have the employee take a battery of assessments that produce no results.
• Call the cops. Make HR handle every disciplinary problem so that you won’t have to.
• “Pass the trash.” Give a bad employee a decent performance review or a glowing recommendation with the express purpose of pawning him off. These actions are doubly cowardly because they make it harder for the next employer to get rid of him. Investigators are asking whether this is what led to the massacre at Fort Hood.
• Mandate useless training. Ask your training department to fix your nonperformer’s IT or other skill deficits—without, of course, addressing any underlying lack of understanding.
• Hire someone else to do the job. This classic workaround happens all the time. Even better …
• Promote the incompetent one. No kidding.
• Delegate the work. Here’s your best option when no one else will take the underperformer. Called “playing to their strengths,” this tactic involves taking away all the hard parts of a job until the underperformer can handle it, and reassigning the real work to others. Your staff will develop a deep and rich resentment.
• Wait for retirement, yours or theirs. Subtle but nonetheless quite cowardly.
— Adapted from “The Cowardly Manager’s Guide to Dealing with Poor Performers,” Dan McCarthy, Great Leadership blog.
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