Every leader at some point has had a challenging employee. Many really good employees are promoted without the needed skills to succeed; some don’t have great personal skills, maybe they aren’t good time managers, or haven’t learned to prioritize work appropriately. Whatever the reason, they aren’t successful leaders.
The easy answer is to fire them and promote or hire someone else – in fact, that occurs more often than not. Is that the best answer? If this employee was good enough to be promoted, isn’t he or she worth saving? If you promote someone else, are you guaranteed to get someone better? If you hire from the outside, how long will it take for someone brand new to the company to get up to speed? All very good questions that you should ask before making a move.
We have had very good luck with providing coaching to these employees, from front-line managers all the way to CEOs. We have a simple process:
- Identify the issue.
- Influence the employee to accept help.
- Work with him or her on a reasonable, realistic schedule to amend behaviors.
- Set up an action plan to move forward.
- Follow up as needed to ensure changes continue successfully.
The employee should never feel less than supported and valued during the process. Coaching shows that a business values its employees and their contributions and wants to help them be successful. It should never be approached as punishment! A good business coach will ensure the best approach for each leader.
Remember that a perfect employee does not exist. Everyone can use a little – or a lot – of help to be the best leader possible.