When I let my team member go (My P&G Story #9)
I was recruiting team members to deliver a new hire training. Ana was perfect for the job — enthusiastic and with a quirky perspective. When I asked her to join the team, she was thrilled and committed right away. Job done, I thought.
I was wrong. Despite her initial eagerness, Ana was impossible to pin down. She dropped out of meetings in the last minute, didn’t deliver the work we had agreed and generally wasn’t taking the lead on her project. Her excuses were varied:
“My manager asked me to meet at this time”
“I have a big deadline tomorrow”
“Once I’m back from holiday, I’ll get started on it…”
I didn’t want to appear inflexible, so I adapted our team meetings around her. I also didn’t want to seem pushy, so I had a few friendly chats with her and reminded her of the importance of delivering on time. I was cautious this could set the wrong example for the rest of the team, but I reassured myself it was a one-off.
Ana still wasn’t delivering and I found myself rationalizing on her behalf. That’s when I realized all the excuses came down to one simple fact: the new hire training was low on Ana’s priorities; so low in fact, it was about to fall off the paper. I was stuck between maintaining the relationship with my colleague and getting the work done.
I asked myself:
“What is the most important factor in delivering this project?”
From all my years of leading the training team, I knew the answer was dedication. Whilst Ana was smart and generally hard working, she was not dedicated to our project.
Keeping her on the team wasn’t fair to the new hires who deserved the best training. It also wasn’t fair to the rest of the team who would have to pick up her slack in the last minute. It was going to be a difficult conversation but I knew I had to do it.
“Ana, how are you feeling about the new hire training?”
“Well, I like the project but I am overwhelmed right now.”
“Alright, so what would help you?”
“Hmm… maybe I can step out for now and join the team in a few months when I have more time?”
“I think dropping this project is the right thing for you so you can concentrate on your top priorities. It is also the right thing for our team because we need everyone giving 110%.”
I had feared Ana would be upset when I let her go. Instead, she was relieved — and so was I. My team had to do a bit of extra work to compensate for her absence, but we had more than enough time — and dedication — to do it.
Get unstuck by aligning your priorities with your team. If they don’t match, the work won’t get done on time, well, or at all.
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Looking forward to connecting,
Originally published at desijagger.com on July 18, 2017.