Demoted in Two Weeks

Thinking about it is harder than doing it.

I asked Fred (not his real name) for the secret to successful leadership and he talk about dealing with tough issues.

The way you address poor performance defines leadership.


Demoted in two weeks:

Fred took the CIO position of a large – highly visible and political – organization. Two weeks later he demoted a long time manager. Fred doesn’t look, sound, or act like an ogre. He’s mild mannered, even keeled, and smiles easily.

When I asked Fred for insights on dealing with tough issues he said, “Do it quickly.”

7 steps for quickly dealing with performance issues:

  1. Gather facts.
  2. Seek counsel if necessary.
  3. Make the decision.
  4. Inform all concerned parties.
  5. Don’t dance around issues.
  6. Get to the point quickly.
  7. Move forward.

It sounds harsh, but dealing quickly with performance issues is compassionate.

The demoted manager knew he was in over his head. He thanked Fred, stayed with the organization, and returned to the role he most enjoyed.

7 Tips for dealing with performance issues:

  1. Act with compassion not anger.
  2. Discern what’s best for the organization and the parties involved. Do they want a job or do they want to make a contribution?
  3. Push toward positive performance more than against negative. Define problems – focus on solutions.
  4. Determine if development is appropriate. Will you be glad if the under-performer is with your organization six months from now?
  5. Explore expectations. Are they fuzzy?
  6. Explain what progress looks like, if the under-performer stays with your organization.
  7. Follow through quickly. Long timelines drain urgency. If an issue is important enough to bring up, it’s important enough to address quickly.

“I should have dealt with it sooner.” (Overheard by a leader who put off dealing with a tough issue.)

Delay increases worry, stress, and frustration.

How can leaders answer their fear of dealing quickly with performance issues?

When is delay the better option when it comes to tough issues?