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The Slacker, The Jerk and the Wrong Guy

I once worked with a guy who was not a good fit for our team.  He interviewed well, fit all of the job requirements, was enthusiastic and  really meant well.  The problem was he was just the Wrong Guy for the job.  For the profession, really.  Thankfully in this case we recognized it early on and started a quick path to resolution.  

I've seen other bad fits (guys and gals), and of course the occasional jerk and slacker too, including some that have stayed on-board for years.  Is this just a part of work-life? Do we have to deal with these people on a regular basis?  

On one hand, yes.  There will always be some bad seeds slipping through the recruiting and interviewing process, and some that go from good seeds to bad seeds because of events in their own life or changes they're not interested in tackling.  Try as we may with psychological screening, social-media investigation, reference checks and even knowing the person, it's not possible to rule out that someone will be or become a bad fit for your team.

On the other hand, you don't have to live with it.  And in fact, you should work quickly and decisively to change it.  Because "having just one slacker or jerk in a group can bring down performance by 30% to 40%"[1]

You know it's true. You've felt it first hand, starting with some college project that you did all by yourself to get the grade you wanted, to the project you were on last year that nearly went belly up. 

How your A-players react to the slackers, jerks, wrong guys and other weak links:

-  First, they identify the weak one.  A weak link cannot hide. Strong team members know who isn’t performing up to the level of everyone else.

-  Second, they try to help the weak one.  They have a choice to ignore or help, and they typically will help.

-  Then they resent the weak one.  No one likes to fall behind consistently because of the same person.

-  And become less effective.  Carrying another’s load compromises your performance. Whole team suffers.

-  They start to question their leader’s ability.  If a weak link remains, others doubt leader’s courage and discernment.

-  And then, of course, they leave.  Why would they stay?[2]

So man up,  woman up, or whatever you need to do but take a stand and find a new home for the these ill-matched team members, or at the very least try to redirect their energy into projects or work that's a better fit.  Everyone will be happier for it.

1 Sutton, R. How a Few Bad Apples Ruin Everything. The Wall Street Journal. Web. 2014.1.21

2 Adapted from: Maxwell, J.C. The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson, Inc.