THE NEW GLOBAL WE.

Bad Employees

Posted in Big Thought by Harsha on November 7, 2007

Let me begin with a philosophical question.

Are people really bad by birth or is it their environment that makes them so? Someone who appears “bad” to you is actually someone else’s husband or wife or best friend. I’ve touched this idea many times in the past. It really gets confusing because there is no right answer.

When you apply this to the goons overseas like the perpetrators of all genocidal cleansing like in Darfur or the Nazi regime. You’d say that they were REALLY bad people because they did these horrible things but it still does not answer my question as to what made them a bad person (birth or environment). But I digress.

This article on CNN contributed by Careerbuilder.com is pretty interesting. The author Tag Goulet lists 10 reasons (we love those lists don’t we?) why these “bad employees” probably don’t get fired.

1. The employee has a relationship with someone higher up.
2. The boss relies on the employee.
3. The employee brings more value to the company than he or she costs.
4. The boss thinks it could be worse.
5. The boss is afraid of the employee.
6. The boss feels sorry for the employee.
7. The boss doesn’t want to go through the hiring process.
8. The employee knows something.
9. The employee has everybody fooled.
10. He or she is not really a bad employee.

These are all valid reasons and their explanations are pretty good as well. That got me thinking about two concepts: is someone really “bad” and how did this situation arise in the first place. How did the manager or hirer put himself/herself in this situation? Really, I don’t know what to think of when someone tells me so-and-so is a bad person. Trust me, I’ve encountered some really nasty people (like the one I wrote about last year – link at the end of this post). But that still doesn’t make that person bad because he has a wife (and now a child) and he is someone’s loved one. I don’t like him but that is pretty much the sphere of influence of his “badness”. The same applies to good people. They may appear good to some folks but bad to others; it is possible.

Back to the question of how this happened in the first place. If you look at the list of 10 above, you can pick a corollary for each and I think it gives us guidelines to prevent viewing someone as bad or unsavory. If you took a guy that was a mover for 5 years and put him in a corporate environment (small business type), then you’re bound to have sparks fly.

Before you hire someone, think of these things:

1. The employee has a relationship with someone higher up.
Is this person related to you?

2. The boss relies on the employee.
Can you still do your job after you hire this person?

3. The employee brings more value to the company than he or she costs.
Also known as a “superstar”, can you instead train a rookie to succeed?

4. The boss thinks it could be worse.
STATUS QUO IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!

5. The boss is afraid of the employee.
Stop calling yourself a boss in that case, unless you have a meddling superior yourself who frequently dips down to “manage” your direct reports himself.

6. The boss feels sorry for the employee.
I’ve felt this for some of my reports, but if that person is so concerned about their wellbeing, then they’d do their job, don’t you think?

7. The boss doesn’t want to go through the hiring process.
It is possible that you went into this mode when you hired this “bad” employee so maybe you need some counseling to pull your socks up?

8. The employee knows something.
Also known as “blackmail”, which is also illegal, no matter the consequences.

9. The employee has everybody fooled.
You can fool one person all the time or fool everyone once, but that is it. If this person has been “fooling everyone” and you’re the boss, then chances are you just missed it. No one can fool everyone all the time.

10. He or she is not really a bad employee.
NOW you’re thinking better. Question your hypothesis if the person is “bad” or just not a fit with your organization.

Let us not confuse “bad” with “not a fit”. Your trash is someone else’s treasure so you should be happy that if you let someone go because they don’t fit, then they might have a chance at finding a job that fits and makes them happy. At the end of the day, if you’re not a megalomaniac, a dictator, a sadist or a masochist, you’re just like the rest of us – seeking happiness. So is this “bad” employee.

Please let them go.

Here is the Careerbuilder.com article on CNN.com.

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2 Responses

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  1. […] to my blog have all been about working with people you hate! I’ve written quite a bit about this topic, and it is something that will never go away. I don’t think it is a by-product of a […]

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