Hi all,
I'm looking for some advice on an interesting challenge (opportunity?) that has come my way.

I manage a team of 11 and have been pretty successful thanks to Manager-Tools and the conference. In our latest employee climate survey, my team's score was among the highest in our division. Our clients are very happy with our work, we are meeting or exceeding all of our metrics, and everyone is generally performing where they need to be or better. Life is good!

Another manager has an employee that has struggled over the past few years. The role he is in has grown, and the employee hasn't been able to keep up with the needs of the job, to the point where he is no longer a good fit for the position. The manager is unhappy, the employee is unhappy, and work isn't getting done at the level it needs to be.

Our director and HR folks have determined that he isn't going to be let go, and in "recognition" of my team's high performance, they'd like to assign the struggling performer to me. He's not an exact fit skills-wise for my team either, and wouldn't be someone I'd actively recruit given a choice.

In reviewing his last few year's performance reviews, there has been only small mention of any sort of problem - in fact, in a few areas, he was graded as "excellent".

On the one hand, I'd like the challenge to bring this guy up to spec - he likely hasn't been getting actionable feedback, and I suspect (as I've seen before) between regular O3's and some good feedback he can make progress. Nothing would make me more proud than to be able to give the guy a legitimate high rating at review time. Still, he isn't entirely qualified to work on my team, and initially, at least, he's likely to bring down morale on the rest of my team.

Additional headcount is hard to come by in my organization, but I'm not sure if it is worth the "cost" in trying to bring him in and the risk of having to let him go later anyway.

Anyone been in a similar situation? Any suggestions?


jhack's picture

Agree to take him on, under probation.

Coach him, give him feedback, find out his skills, put him in a role where he can succeed.

I've had the pleasure of having folks transferred to me who were not performing to standard, only to have them thrive when they were coached and put into roles where they could succeed.

And worst case: he flounders, you transition him out.

It's incredibly rare that someone who works hard, is willing to take on tasks that fit their skills, and listens to feedback won't become a real contributor.

As for the rest of the team, they need to learn how to bring in a greenbeans and make the team a success. Give 'em feedback if their performance suffers. (What's this "morale" thing everyone keeps talking about?)


tlhausmann's picture
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[quote="mtmif"][...]they'd like to assign the struggling performer to me. He's not an exact fit skills-wise for my team either, and wouldn't be someone I'd actively recruit given a choice.[/quote]

Hmmm. Find out if you are operating under any implicit directives. Simply put, are you expected to document performance problems and dismiss the employee. Apparently you hold your current team accountable and document appropriately.

That said, it may be more of a situation where your skills are required to diagnose then resolve the problem. (Promote, demote, retrain or replace.)

Peter.westley's picture
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This has happened to me.

What transpired was that I worked with the individual (coaching, feedback) and over a period of time, performance improved hugely but it also helped them to realise that it was in their best interests to leave of their own accord.

I'm not saying that that's the best or only scenario but I think taking them on, being very clear about expectations of performance and working from there is not a bad way to go.

... as Mark has said, (paraphrased) I love you and I won't hesitate to sack you...

tomas's picture

I think you should be very careful about damaging your team's performance so that you can try to fix someone else's problem. If you aren't careful you will become Mr Fixit and have every non-performer that the other managers couldn't be bothered to fire properly. Whilst you may not be able to tell your peer how they should manage, you can certainly ask them some pointed questions that might make them think about their performance as managers.

-How have one on one's been going?
-What specific feedback have they provided them?
-What coaching have they put the employee through?
-How has the employee performed against their goals?
-What documentation is there about the specific problems?(ie late stage coaching)[/list:u]

Ideally you would have the opportunity to go through some of the normal hiring procedures, particularly a face to face interview. It isn't unusual to do that for an internal hire, although this sounds like more of an involuntary transfer. The benefit of an interview is it gives the chance to find out what some of the issues are, and to make sure the direct isn't going to be too disruptive to your team's performance.

It might not apply, but imagine telling your team that they have missed out on a bonus because of poor team performance caused by a poor performer who just ended up resigning anyway. And what does it say to the rest of your team when you lower the hiring bar? If you send the message that performance isn't actually that important to you don't be surprised if it has a negative impact on your good performers.

HMac's picture

You've shown that you can manage a team effectively. Take this direct on, with the goal of fitting [i]him [/i]into the ways of [i]your [/i]group (not vice-versa!).