Not everyone works out.

Even top performers can slide into a funk and fail to recover. Some team members get jaded and refuse to ditch a bad attitude. Newly hired team members sometimes can’t produce the work or lack the skills they said they had. For a host of reasons, leaders sometimes decide they need to make a change and part ways with a colleague.

After a decision has been made to move on from an underperforming team member, it isn’t always easy to execute. Projects depend on them. Important work must get done. The relationship implications for others, some of whom may be very fond of or dependent on this colleague, have to be considered.

As the song says, breaking up is hard to do, even in the workplace.

Leaders who delay terminating colleagues often fall into the trap of waiting even longer to do so. There is always a reason to delay longer. Unfortunately, there is never a perfect time to disengage with someone who is integral to the team, no matter how poor their performance or attitude. But doing so instantly without working through the ramifications is an equally bad call.

Good leaders straddle the fence and tolerate those people until they don’t have to. This doesn’t mean they permanently delay what needs to be done. Instead, once the decision is firm, they immediately begin working on the exit plan. They stop new assignments. They exclude these colleagues from critical new work. They begin a search for a person to backfill their role. They begin speaking to those connected to them to soften the blow.

The moment they don’t have to tolerate a team member who needs to go, good leaders pull the trigger. They don’t wait a second longer. No leader on earth has ever uttered the words, “I should have waited longer to terminate that person.” But practical realities prevail. So, the best leaders stage the exit and then move to action. Good leaders tolerate people until they don’t have to.

Be a better leader within a day…

Admired Leadership in-person events provide opportunities to strengthen the behaviors of any serious leader. For 2024, we’ll be hosting single-day Admired Leadership Interactive events in Miami, New York City, Chicago and Austin. Explore each here.

By Published On: February 21, 2024Categories: Executive Lifestyle

About the Author: Guest Writer

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