• Aryeh Brickner

The quarterback quandary. How to handle an employee with diminishing returns?

After 15 somewhat glorious seasons and two unbelievable Super Bowl victories, the New York Giants have finally decided to hand the reigns of their franchise over to someone else. (I am discounting the Geno Smith gaffe) As beloved as he is in NY, everyone aside from the coaches it seems, realized his time as QB had to come to an end.

Sports isn’t the only arena where long-term “employees” can run out of steam. Some employees just get burnt out, while others don’t keep up with changing technology and end up with obsolete skill sets.

Obviously, you never want to get into a situation where an employee can no longer perform their function at the required level, but once you’re there, how should managers deal with it? Let the employee limp along holding back the team out of loyalty to their service? Dismiss them discreetly and send them on their way unceremoniously?

Here are a few suggestions on how managers can handle a long-term employee who is showing declining performance while helping them to maintain their dignity.

1. An important first step is being aligned with the employee. This conversation can be difficult, but it needs to be done, otherwise, the employee with have no idea what the issue is. It could very well be the employee respectfully disagrees with your assessment, so make sure you can back yourself up with facts and documentation about their performance.

2. Try transferring the employee to a position of influence somewhere where their experience can be an asset to their performance. “Bob, you’ve been an instrumental part of this company for 22 years and while working in the development team is no longer possible, we’d love for you to oversee our new employee training program. In this case, you are taking their knowledge, loyalty, and hopefully still passion and putting it to good use. In Eli Manning’s case he will hopefully serve as a fantastic mentor to Daniel Jones.

3. Most importantly is to treat them with dignity and respect. Discarding them like yesterday’s leftovers won’t go down well with other employees who will certainly take notice how you treat them.

“He was the best salesman in the region for 12 years, but for the last 3 years he’s been at the bottom 10%”. We all reach a point where our production or output simply isn’t what it once was and there’s only so long a person can sustain a position based on legacy. If you are managing someone who fits this description, the best thing to do is recognize it, and deal with it, in as respectful and dignified manner as possible.

Have you ever worked with someone like this? Did the way they get treated impact your performance or feelings for the company? Tell me about it in the comments!

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