Confronting An Inefficient Team Member

Frustrated woman in meeting

It’s a good rule of thumb that when a member of your team needs to leave, you’re going to experience 36 hours of pain. The only question is when.

Get It, Want It, Capacity to Do It (GWC)

I recently watched a leadership team I have been working with for a year and a half go through that with a team member we’ll call Bill. Bill isn’t a bad guy. In fact, he’s a great guy. But he didn’t GWC™ his seat on the leadership team. He might have been a fit for a seat one or two levels down, but the company didn’t have that seat.

None of this was a secret. Other team members told me privately that Bill wasn’t up to the job. Yet when I asked if they were going to tell him, they all said, “This team really hates conflict. It will work itself out.”

Eventually, it did. EOS® created so much transparency that the issue simply couldn’t keep hiding. It finally became so obvious in a session that Bill was setting weak Rocks and still not getting them done that the team called him out. Two days later he resigned. 36 hours of pain.

The Elephant in The Room

While Bill was in his seat, critical issues in his department didn’t get solved. That rippled into other departments. The team was unable to have truly open, honest conversations because there was an elephant named Bill in the room. Everything took longer than it needed to. All of this slowed revenue growth and reduced profits.

Clearly, the team’s unwillingness to rip the band-aid off wasn’t good for the company. The thing is, it wasn’t exactly good for Bill, either.

Every day for four years, he got out of bed, showered, shaved and drove fifteen miles to face frustration, failure, and the questioning looks of his peers, his direct reports and his boss. Whenever I saw him, he seemed scared, defensive or depressed. I never heard him laugh. Imagine how he must have felt.

Should he have quit sooner? Of course. But people usually don’t. Most of the time, we need to have the mirror held up to us. Holding that mirror up is your job as a leader. There will be 36 hours of pain. Prolonging the agony never helps.

Ripping off the band-aid isn’t easy. But you’ll feel much better as soon as it’s done.

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