Those who lead people are usually optimistic about the staff they lead. But there are times when we need to recognize that it is not going to work with a specific staff member without significant change. In fact, there are behaviors that if not confronted will hurt your team and by extension your leadership. Many leaders err in allowing the behaviors to exist for too long.
What are the signs that this is the case?
We keep running into attitudes or behaviors that are counterproductive to the mission of the ministry or the team a staff member is on. I spoke to a leader recently who has a staff member whose behaviors indicate unteachability and a significant amount of hubris. He has coached and told the staff member that his behaviors are counterproductive. But nothing changes. I suggested that he is dealing with someone who doesn't listen or believe that what he is saying is true. Unteachable people are unlikely to succeed as they tend to sabotage themselves. They also negatively impact those around them.
The staff member does not seem to value the mission or non-negotiables of the organization and want to do their own thing. Teams and organizations only work well when everyone is in alignment with the rest of the group. Lone rangers don't work well on a team or within an organization even if they are brilliant. If you have one staff member who is allowed to do their own thing, why should the others be in alignment? It is not ok for staff to be out of alignment with the organization's mission, values or practices.
There are significant EQ issues that keep popping up. The question here is whether the individual can be coached toward greater EQ health. If not, and if their EQ issues create issues within their team or organization, it is unfair to other staff to leave them in place. Further, unhealthy behaviors directly impact the culture of the organization. And a healthy culture is a key factor in your success! Often the result of EQ deficiencies is relational conflict, passive aggressive behavior, and unteachable attitudes, all of which create a degree of chaos among staff and often impacts constituents as well.
You have tried to get someone into a productive lane but you have been unsuccessful. When there are high expectations for team members and there is an unproductive employee, everybody notices. They not only notice but leaders lose points when they don't address the issue because others are held to a higher standard. You cannot give an individual a pass. Sometimes there is no longer a fit. When I have done employee audits in organizations this issue pops up almost every time. It is noticed and it matters.
When a significant amount of time and energy has been expended in trying to make it work and it continues to remain problematic it is most likely not a good fit. Optimism needs at some point to be tempered by reality. It is amazing how the exit of one staff member can be the key to freedom, joy and productivity of the rest of the team. It is not always a conclusion we desire to come to but in some circumstances it is the right conclusion.
An important factor in all of this is the impact of problematic behaviors on the rest of your staff. It is fundamentally unfair to the rest of your staff to allow unproductive behaviors to continue. What is often considered grace by a leader in allowing a problematic staff member to remain, is not grace for the rest of the team who are all impacted by the behaviors of other team members. Your "kindness" to one is not a kindness to others!
We cannot solve all the issues of staff members. It is not that they cannot find a place of effectiveness somewhere but sometimes it is not with our team or organization. Learning to be realistic as well as redemptive is a skill all leaders need to learn. After all, when it is not working for the leader it is usually not working for the rest of the team either. When we have done our best and it still does not work we need to take action - for our well being as well as for the well being of the organization. Ironically it is usually the best for the staff member who does not fit as well. Run good process but don't prolong the pain.
TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Creating cultures of organizational excellence"