We all know there are growing pains when anyone starts a new job. It's normal to take some time before an employee finds their groove. But just how long are you supposed to wait?

And more importantly, what if they never find it?

As a leader, it's your job to deal with employees whose performances are not quite up to par. When this happens, do some reflection first. Have you provided enough resources, including a coaching and development program? From monthly check-ins to direct feedback, your leadership team should have laid out clear expectations for every position.

If you've ticked all the boxes, then it's on to plan B. Effective leaders know when someone is no longer making the cut. There is only so much you can do until an employee's mediocre work becomes harmful to your organization. Even if it's not noticeable right away, an employee's lack of motivation to apply your critical feedback will begin to reflect in their effort and attitude.

This is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn when I started my company. I convinced myself that with the right amount of encouragement, support, and feedback, a so-so employee could easily become a star. So I kept waiting. And waiting. I spent hours of my time on their development; time that should have been spent on people who were actually showing promise.

And you know what I learned? Passion can't be taught-- because that's what it really comes down to. I do believe that anyone who is struggling can become good if not great, but if they're not willing to do the work to get there, you're climbing a never-ending uphill battle. 

So if you're on the fence on what to do, there are some important factors to help you determine whether it's time to terminate the mediocre performer for good.

Here are three signs it's time to say good-bye:

1. They only do the bare minimum.

Without fail, you know the employee will arrive at work at 9am and head out as soon as the clock strikes 5pm. Even on those days when deadlines are looming and the rest of the team is in the weeds, they never stay longer than what's minimally required.

I'm all about work-life balance, but sometimes a job will require staff to stay an extra hour or two in order to get things done. These situations come up from time to time, and it's on those days that employees will show their true character.

It speaks volumes when a staff member leaves their team high and dry. This will further cause more rift in your current team, as everyone else is having to pick up the slack.

2. They only think about me, myself and I.    

Every leader should empower their staff to make decisions and work independently. No one can develop and grow professionally if they are dealing with micromanagement. With that said, they also have to be a team player.

One individual cannot carry a department, let alone an organization. So if they avoid collaborating, silo their work, and ignore a colleague's requests for help, it's time to consider their toll on the business.

If the employee's work was exceptional than their employment could be worth considering; but when they're only producing average work, it's likely time to notify HR.

3. They're influencing the norm.    

If you keep one average performing person, then what's stopping you from keeping another? And another? It's a domino effect that around can turn your talented team into multiple 'good enough' performers. 

This causes a slew of problems that could directly affect the business. You wouldn't settle for an average surgeon or be content with sending your kids to a mediocre school, and talent should be no different.  

Published on: Apr 25, 2019
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