Part 3: Problem People

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Insightful comments, Theresa, however, I am going to push the envelope here a bit. Your approach above would work if there is nothing the person has done which is illegal or unethical, or reputation damaging. And that is where I am going. As a leader, if I come across illegal or unethical behavior. That person needs to go.


However, there is another arena and that is when an employee is damaging the organization’s relationship with its customers or constituency, or even other employees. Let’s say in this scenario I discover that an employee has been badmouthing my reputation, and me as well as connecting this to my organization, or directly badmouthing the organization. This could include factual lies. I find it out because someone told me, or I hear or see it myself. I am having trouble seeing how I could give this toxic person a few weeks to figure out where to go next, and have a “happy trails” party where I give them a thank you certificate! (I guess you can see I have no feelings about this!).  

Sometimes leaders have to act and act fast to control the damage. And the collateral may be that some people will be concerned about my behavior. I have to fall back on my previous behavior with them. If there has been trust, it may still be there after this. I think at times we make trust out to be too fragile. In a healthy environment, I think trust can be more robust. (You might feel comfortable calling me overly optimistic, and that is OK.). The reality is that most decisions will impact other employees in a wide variety of possibilities. Some people may decide to never trust me again if I let a friend of theirs go and they didn’t see that there was a valid reason. I must go on, somehow…

After you respond to these comments, I would like to talk about how to talk to employees considering the above situation. That is, how do I stay within bounds and communicate in a situation where I had to let someone go, quickly, and staff is not able to hear the whole story from me?


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