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Ask John Dame: Don't hesitate to get rid of "poison" employees

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John Dame, CEO coach, executive team consultant and leadership strategist
John Dame, CEO coach, executive team consultant and leadership strategist - (Photo / )

As an executive coach for the past 15 years, I have worked closely with dozens of CEOs and their leadership teams. All of the executives with whom I work face similar issues. Send your questions to JD@johndame.com.

Q: I have a project manager who recently tried to recruit one of my senior leaders to go work for another company. This project manager is a good, long-term employee and is doing a good job. Nobody has left our company. What should I do?

A: It's almost impossible for me to believe that anyone working for a company would recruit their boss to go work somewhere else. For me, the answer to your question is simple.

There are only a few behaviors that would get someone fired in my world. This is one of them. The disrespect and lack of common sense your project manager shows would cause me to dismiss him right away. I’d call this internal poison. The longer you keep the employee around the more harm he can do.

Q: My chief operating officer has been ill for some time. His role is pivotal for our organization. I expect him back in the next 90 days. He is making noises that suggest he does not want to return to his COO position. We’ve been filling the gaps for him, but we really need a leader in this position. What should I do?

A: First, I would have a conversation with your COO to see exactly what he is thinking. You might be surprised. As someone recovering from a long-term illness, he might be finding it difficult to return to a high-pressure position. Let him tell you what he might like to do.

I’d also consider putting him back into his position for a 90-day trial. He could see if he feels up to the job, and you can see how he performs. At the end of that time it needs to be clear that you’ll find a position for him in the event he is unable to do the required work as COO. You told me that he has been a great company resource. I’d let him give it a go and find something less stressful for him if he cannot come back to work and meet the job requirements.

John Dame is a CEO coach, executive team consultant and leadership strategist based in Susquehanna Township, Pennsylvania. Visit his website at: www.johndame.com.

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