The Middle is Uncomfortable

Joe’s company was in dire need of a marketing director.  With several new products to be launched, marketing was a bottleneck.  The CFO, Sandy, recommended that Joe consider her friend Lisa.

He and his team interviewed her and although she was light on experience, everyone liked her and thought she would be a good fit.  Lisa was hired.

From the start there were issues.  The questions Lisa asked were naive and not about the important business of launching products.  A month went by, Joe mentioned to Sandy that Lisa was taking a long time to catch on.  But her team liked her and would work more closely with her.

After another month, Lisa still wasn’t pulling her weight.  Others in the marketing department were working overtime to fulfill Lisa’s responsibilities.  However, she was popular, so they were willing to cover for her anticipating that she would learn the ropes.

Six months went by, Lisa’s co-workers were still filling in for her and burned out from the effort.  Joe knew he had to take action.

He informed Sandy that he had to let Lisa know that this was not working out.  To his surprise, Lisa had been in talking to her friend about the issues she was having.  Sandy was hearing displeasure from both sides but had never told Joe he should talk directly with Lisa. Eventually, Lisa had to be fired.

When you have a job that needs to be filled, you may want to hire a candidate recommended by a member of your team. However, Joe did many things wrong.  When he realized Lisa wasn’t doing the work she was hired to do, he should have talked with Lisa about her ability to fulfill her responsibilities.  There should have been a timeline in place with specific expectations she needed to meet.  Next, it’s hard to separate work and friendship.  Putting Sandy in the middle was unfair and uncomfortable for a valuable team member.  Finally, it’s necessary to separate popularity from the ability to do the job.  Lisa’s co-workers should not have had to do her work for six months.

In this videoKim Scott author of Radical Candorexplains the benefits for everyone when they are candid with each other.

The road is easier together,

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