"The only way to enjoy anything in this life, is to earn it first."
One bad apple can spoil the bunch! As a leader, we cannot allow "bad apples" to interrupt our efforts toward achieving our goals.
Leaders can quickly lose credibility with their team when we fail to immediately address issues that get in the way of the teams' mission.
So how do we best address an issue with an employee that we perceive to be a "bad apple"?
First, we self-assess our own actions. The three key leadership areas that we must consistently hold ourselves accountable to:
Teach - Have you, as the leader, taken the time to communicate your expectations clearly? Have you taught the employee?
Coach - Have you provided the one-on-one training and coaching to ensure the employee is capable of meeting your expectations?
Expect - Have you witnessed the employee doing the task, or exhibiting the behavior you expect, so that you know they understand? Have you been consistent in your expectations so that you know that the employee could not have misunderstood?
Assuming you have met the above criteria, then the conversation with the offending employee can be pretty straightforward.
We never said it was going to be easy, but if you've done your job as the leader, the employee simply needs to understand his/her choices.
An effective leader understands the importance of acting quickly and fairly with problem employees.
To ensure fairness, leaders must remove their personal emotions from the professional issue at hand. Leaders must prepare themselves so that the entire discussion focused on two areas:
Stay focused only on Performance and Behavior when working through employee issues. Trust this advice and I guarantee that your Human Resources Rep. and/or any future Legal Rep., will love you for it!
Yes, there is always a risk, and possibility of legal consequences ie. someone suing you for wrongful termination. Serious stuff, right?
Still, you can be confident! Terminating someone due to repeated, specific behavior and/or performance issues, can be reasonably understood by a 12-person jury. Whereas, firing someone because "you just didn't like him/her" can raise serious doubt about the credibility of the manager.
So, one last time ? always keep comments (verbal and written) focused solely on Performance and/or Behavior.
Let's consider a specific example.
How a great leader can present a WINNING CHOICE to a bad apple:
- Communicate clearly your expectations in terms of Performance and Behavior.
- Communicate the rewards of meeting your expectations ie. job security, future opportunity, respect and credibility
- Communicate the consequences of not meeting expectations ie. looking for another role where he/she will find more fulfillment.
- Allow the employee the opportunity to choose his/her own path (one road leads to rewards, the other road leads to new adventures - probably working for someone else)
- Ensure the employee that you will support the employee in either CHOICE he or she makes - but ultimately, the choice and the responsibility belongs to the employee.
- Confirm that the employee understands your expectations and that you will do your part by supporting him and holding him accountable.
Once you have had this discussion and placed the employee on a "Final Notice", you have truly empowered the employee to create his/her own destiny.
The actions of the employee, in terms of both Performance and Behavior, will soon signal to you his or her "choice".
Make sure you "support" the employee in whichever path she chooses to take.
Reward her for her progress, or release her from a situation that neither party is happy with.
By following the above guidelines, your team will respect you for your fair and decisive leadership.
No, it's never easy to let someone go, but it is the right thing to do if that's the employees' "choice".
Richard Gorham is the founder and President of Leadership-Tools, Inc. His web site, http://www.leadership-tools.com is dedicated to providing free tools and resources for today's aspiring leaders.
Offering high-quality tools in the areas of Business Planning, Leadership Development, Customer Service, Sales Management and Team Building.