Rotten to the Core

Many senior leaders don’t like to think about succession planning. It’s hard to think of ourselves as replaceable, but remember: Leadership is about creating a legacy that can be passed down. All leaders need to think about who might fill their shoes, and how to set them up for success.

Rotten rotten

Questions to ask before letting go of your bad-apple employee:

1. Who will fill their shoes, and what do you need to do to get the replacement ready for action?
2. What are the distinctions between their job descrip-tion and what they really do? Is there anything that will be missing that’s not understood by Human Resources, or by your recruiting team if you’re filling the position from outside the organization?
3. Have you attempted to give direct and honest feedback about the individual’s impact, both good and bad?
4. Is it worth investing in this employee to develop or smooth out the rough edges? Do they want to change?
5. What behaviors do you want to reward? What do you want to get rid of? How can this person become a good example for the rest of your employees?

A few words of encouragement . . .

No matter what you do about your bad apple, the most critical thing is to take action. Tell him or her what the problem is, and be decisive about your course of action. It may not be the perfect solution to let someone go, or to invest more in them when they may fail, but you will be saving your organization and the people in it from an ever-escalating problem. The employee may not thank you, but you can rest assured you’ve done the right thing.


About karlinsloan

Karlin Sloan has committed herself to finding out what makes great leaders tick, and to supporting leaders to be the change they wish to see in the world. As a corporate citizen she is an advocate for triple-bottom-line reporting, for creating sustainable ways of working and living, and for creating positive organizational communities that work together for the greater good. She is the author of the acclaimed business book Smarter, Faster, Better; Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership which has been translated into Thai and Russian, UNFEAR: Facing Change in an Era of Uncertainty, and co-author of the 2012 book Lemonade: The Leaders Guide to Resilience at Work. For more information see or
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