How Long Do You Carry a Poor Performer?

What if you had a poor performer on your team? How long is too long to carry them on the team?

What If?One of my ducklings is leading a project. He has someone who is not performing and we are 2 weeks from the go live date on the project. As a mentor coach, I have recommended he remove the person from the project. The individual is not committed to performing at a high level (based on performance to date) and their poor performance will impact the project significantly. What would you do? How much longer would you attempt to coach this person through their obvious lack of commitment? Would you remove them? If so, how?

This post is a response to yesterday’s post, “What if you have a Poor Performer?” When you have someone who is not performing, it is critical that you handle the situation with some urgency. Too many leaders, including the one I am writing about today, make excuses and justifications for the poor performance of those they are leading. That is not good leadership.

When you are dealing with an issue, you must do something different. You must see the problem from a different perspective then maybe the perspective you were at when you made the decision to select this leader or when the project was assigned. Don’t expect that the problem will go away without your intervention. Without you making some hard decisions about the project and those who are handling the project, including and especially the project leaders. Here is one of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein

“The significant problems we face today, can’t be solved at the same level we were at when we created them.”

Too many times Novices and Experienced Leaders alike will put off making the hard decision because they are afraid of hurting the person’s feelings. They are afraid the project can’t possibly go on without that individual. That is just not true. Ultimately, it is critical that you make leadership decisions that ensure the best result for the project and  the people or persons. And sometimes removing the person is the best result for both. Fear will kill your leadership. Being fearful to make a decision will put your leadership in question. Leaders make hard decisions. Period.

When success is in jeopardy, assess the situation, identify potential options and solutions and make a decision. Yes, there is wisdom in the multitude of counsel. Yes, you should consider all the players, and the expected outcome of the project. But don’t let the project fail because you are afraid to remove a poor performer (project leader or otherwise). If you are two weeks out from the deliverable date on a project and the leader is the primary reason the project may not be successful – FIRE the leader and get someone else in there that can help the project be successful.

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