Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Frustration Index

Number of times employee screwed up during probationary period: 0
Number of times employee has screwed up in six months since then: 22
Number of times supervisor has talked to employee about problem: 1 (indirectly)
Number of times supervisor has complained to friends and spouse about employee: 72
Number of times supervisor has dropped hints to employee: 14
Number of times employee has taken the hint: 0
Odds that employee will miraculously improve: 0
Number of times co-workers have wondered when the supervisor will act: 205


John said...

The worst of all injustices is allowing someone not meeting expectations to imagine they are doing alright.

I recall a badly misplaced young man once who somehow made it past the recruitment stage into a management training situation in my store. (I was one of several company "training managers.") It was clear after less that forty-eight hours that he wasn't gonna make it. In the privacy of the office I showed him the evaluation form that my boss used to evaluate me. It was an excellent tool designed to focus on specifics without devaluing the person being evaluated.

Point by point I told him how he lacked the background and insights required to meet even the most basic expectations. I was so harsh and clear that if anyone had told me what I told that young man I would have cried on the spot and quit by the end of the day.

His oblivious response was simply "I know I can do better" as he returned to work. He was so obtuse that with the subsequent approval of a couple of my superiors I had the unhappy task of discharging him two days later. Even after he was fired, I don't think he understood why.

That is an extreme example, but it puts into sharp relief how dramatically such a person can torpedo morale in a workgroup. When peers see bosses tolerating substandard performance the impact on everybody can be devastating. And the longer the delay, the worse the damage.

Michael Wade said...


Great story and it happens frequently.

It does no one any good to keep a person in the wrong job. The person becomes a pebble in the shoe of the rest of the team and lowers standards.

Like you, I've seen people who are oblivious to the mismatch. I always hope that it eventually gets through to them when they get a job that is a better fit.