Phil asks the question "Don't managers see the uselessness, counter-productivity, and extreme slowness in accomplishing basic tasks from certain individuals in their teams? I am beginning to think that managers are blind to these problems; because they either do not care, are not looking at their people as the source of their problems, think some productivity is better than none especially if hiring a replacement is too difficult, or think firing someone is not worth the hassle in a large corporation." My answer to Phil is "all of the above." As a consultant I run into this issue all the time and have many times asked the question "Why is this person still here?"
I will add a few more reasons to Phil's list for why nothing gets done and unproductive, or even toxic, employees are left on the payroll:
- There are no stated goals for the person to achieve.
- There are no measures of productivity or "success" in place, so how do you hold someone to a standard that does not exist?
- The "idiot" person is in a protected category and the manager is afraid of firing them for fear of being sued. Because of the absence of 1 & 2
- The performance appraisal system sucks and is geared toward just "showing up" and the manager gave them a good rating for that.
- The person is related to someone higher up in the company.
- They don't want to pay unemployment (like that is more expensive than the drag on productivity and morale.)
All of these issues are fixable. People like Phil should not have to put up with nonproductive fellow employees. HR can lead the charge by making sure managers are trained on proper performance appraisal, coaching and counseling and goal setting. HR needs to insure that proper measures of productivity are in place and that proper documentation of success or lack of success is used. HR needs to realize and tell managers that it is OK to fire people for lack of performance even if they are in a protected category. Nothing in any law requires a company to keep a poor performing employee! (A union contract may be a different story.) HR needs to grow a backbone in some companies.
I will end my rant with a portion of Phil's rant "...I wish I could fire idiots. Right there on the spot. Wouldn't it be nice to say, "You're a useless and unproductive idiot! You're fired!" The company that I work for would be so much better off for it. Morale would be higher. Productivity would increase. "
That might be fun sometime, but as a human resources professional I would exhibit a bit more decorum than that... although I might be thinking it underneath.
What about you? How do you deal with stupid employees?