Not everyone is as likable as me. I’ll admit it, I’m humble that way. No doubt you’ve found yourself in situations where you have had to work with people who were less than pleasant as well. Or worse, maybe they misrepresented their skills to you in the selection/vetting process. To make matters worse, these things are coming to a head now that things are really getting rolling, which isn’t all that surprising because people’s true colors or skills don’t show until the heat is on. What do you do? Move them off the project? Fire them? Take them out back and use them as a speed bump? That is up to you, but before you make any rash decisions I just ask that you think it all the way through. Sometimes it’s best to dance with who you brought. Sure, there may be a pretty young thing standing all by herself next to the punch bowl looking absolutely stunning in her pink chiffon dress and shoes that are dyed to match, but does it really make sense to approach her when the next REO Speedwagon song comes on? Sure, maybe you “can’t fight this feeling anymore,” but what are you going to do when the lights come up and you have “to bring this ship into the shore?” Are you ready to “throw away the oars…forever?” (To my millennial readers/reader it’s an 80’s thing – go find a GenXer and ask them).
It may seem obvious: “yeah, yeah, I can’t go off half-cocked, I get it,” but the fact is managers who go off half cocked have kept many an HR pro in work. I have often heard things like “they are poisoning the team,” or “it only takes one bad apple.” While I agree with these sentiments, let’s face it – sometimes we (and by we, I’m including myself) exaggerate. If we exaggerate someone’s damage to a project or team, sometimes you end up cutting someone loose only to find that while they weren’t doing a great job, they were still doing a job. If you remove them now, you lose whatever benefit you have right now.
On the flip side, do you stick out and just hope they quit? Nope. Be a manager and counsel them. Have the tough conversations about what you expect and what you are getting. Let them get defensive if they are going to. Accept their apologies if they apologize. Be consistent and if the gap remains, then consider your options. Of course it would probably make sense to start thinking about the next dance and who you are going to ask. In other words, start (quietly) recruiting.
For extra credit, click here for a look at the aforementioned song. Feel free to whip out your Zippo lighters (or the cameras on your phones) and wave them in the air.