Move ‘em Up or Move ‘em Out

Category: People Published on Apr 13 2016

Do you have an employee that is driving you crazy?


According to a Gallup poll, 18% of all employees are actively disengaged and 52% are disengaged. This means that only 30%, or less than a third of the workforce, are actively engaged at work.


What is the impact of this on you, the employer? Well, chances are good that if you employ 10 or more people, you have at least one actively disengaged employee and two or three that are simply disengaged. (Note: Statistically, it would be 1.8 actively disengaged and 5.2 disengaged for every 10 people. I am lowballing the number here based on your above average management skills.) 

An actively disengaged employee is dangerous because he is not just working slower; instead, he is creating roadblocks and fomenting dissent among the ranks. In fact, the same Gallup poll estimates that active disengagement costs U.S. businesses $450 to $550 billion per year.


In other words, that one actively disengaged employee is costing you money. Depending on his position, he may be causing:

 - Lost sales

 - Decreased productivity

 - Increased expenses


If you are good with those results, feel free to stop reading here and move on to some other activity. However, if you think you may have an actively disengaged employee it’s time to spring into action before he can create any further losses at your company.


So, if you have an employee who is driving you crazy, you basically have two choices: 

 - Move this employee back to being actively engaged or

 - Move him out.


I believe that all of us have times when we become disengaged. Sometimes we are able to pull ourselves out of the funk; and sometimes we need a kick in the pants to jump start the process.


Your task then, is to talk to this employee about his behavior. While it may be uncomfortable, it’s important to find out the answers to the following questions:

 - Why is he actively causing havoc among the workforce?

 - Why is he blocking movement forward?

 - Why is he driving you crazy?


Now to be clear, I don’t want you to ask those questions. Instead, pinpoint the behaviors that exhibit those characteristics and inquire about the behaviors.


My experience has been that there are usually 3 causes:

 - Lack of training

 - Fear

 - Anger


In small companies, lack of training is frequently a root cause, simply because small companies often lack the resources to adequately train staff members. Instead, employees are expected to learn as they go. This works well with some people; with other personalities it is a road block that results in poor performance.

Some people just need more hands on training. It’s not that these individuals are bad or incompetent. In fact, frequently, they will be more reliable and consistent once they are trained than those who trained themselves.


Fear frequently goes hand in hand with lack of training. When someone is afraid of messing up, it can often be traced back to uncertainty about whether they are doing the right things, or that they are performing the tasks correctly. As a result, they may vary what and how they do things based on the day of the week.


Anger is the most corrosive…and often the hardest to resolve. If the individual’s anger is justified, all it could take to resolve the matter may be to rectify the wrong. I have found that a heartfelt apology can go a long way. Even so, it is not a cure all and will not solve all issues.


In the end, once you discover the cause, the next step is to work with the employee to move him up to active engagement: provide the necessary training, boost his self-confidence, and remove any obstacles. If this does not work, then it is time to move him out.


So which employee is driving you crazy? Schedule some time today to take him aside and find out what is going on. Then create a plan together to move ‘em up.