Deciding What to Do with Challenging Team Members

Today I listened to an entrepreneur discuss how to manage a challenging team member. This founder is seasoned and has a great grasp on his business. But even with years of experience, human resource issues still consume lots of his time and energy. A few thoughts on this topic:

  • CEO multiplier – By the time a human resource situation gets to the CEO’s desk, it’s usually many times worse than what’s being communicated. It’s probably been a concern longer than people are acknowledging.
  • Culture – Is the person a culture fit? Rank them against your core values to find out. If the person isn’t a good fit but your core values don’t indicate that, it may be time to rethink your core values. Getting core values right and incorporating them into the hiring process is preventive maintenance.
  • Time and energy – If one person consumes a ton of leadership or management time and energy, that’s a red flag. Every time I racked my brain about what to do with a particular team member, they ended up leaving despite my best efforts.
  • Custom roles – It’s usually not a good idea to create a custom role to placate someone. It’s a temporary Band-Aid and a horrible example for the rest of the team.
  • Coaching – Listening to a team member describe what they think they need can be a productive conversation. Sometimes it highlights diverging expectations or a mismatch between the professional development the person needs and what the company can offer. But other times it suggests simple changes that can get the relationship back on track.

All companies, regardless of size, contend with human resource problems. It’s an inevitable part of managing people. How you handle these situations is important—it speaks volumes about the company to both outsiders and your own people.