The damage that an unproductive and disengaged worker can cause is impossible to tally. In
my research on organizational behavior patterns, I have found that co-workers recognize disengagement much sooner than management. As a result, the impact on employee morale, as well as its effect on customers and productivity, is often devastating. Dissatisfaction, frustration
and constant griping create a vortex that sucks the enthusiasm out of even the most productive and engaged workers.
We have discovered that it takes the typical manager nine months before recognizing unacceptable work patterns. Then, this typical manager lingers another three months before addressing the issue. This allows the employee to remain actively disengaged for twelve whole months—one full year! Even worse, after trying to address the performance problems with the disengaged individual, it takes the average manager an additional six to nine months before he’s willing to fire the employee. This is especially damaging considering that many company policies state that before an employee is “separated” he must be put on a three-month “PIP”
(Performance Improvement Plan). If the employee agrees to be placed in PIP — and most employees do simply to buy time – he must show improvement by meeting set goals and demonstrating a renewed commitment to his job and the company. If he does not meet the
requirements after the three-month period, he can then be fired. While this may sound reasonable, consider this: If the employee continues to be disengaged, his disengagement
period now totals eighteen to twenty-one months, a period during which he has continued to negatively affect co-workers, customers and reports.
This pattern exists at all levels – from frontline employees to executives.
If you make the wrong decision in hiring, recognize it early and deal with it. Either change the position or change the person. Sixty-eight percent of an employee’s productivity is directly attributable to the supervisor. “Fixing” people can actually yield negative returns in productivity. You need to know when not to retain an employee and why. In the long run, it’s doing as much of a favor for the wrong-fit employee as it is for you.