The Feedback

Sometimes employees with negative attitudes have to be fired. But maybe not as often as you think—or at least not before you’ve seen whether management is part of the problem. That was the idea we floated last week at the Drucker Exchange, drawing on a number of things Peter Drucker wrote about employee morale.

Some of you said that a lot of employees would like their work much better if management didn’t get in the way. Reader Patrick Welsh wrote:

I am a high school teacher and many of my colleagues are made negative by the meaningless paperwork and meetings involved in attempts to improve the school; however they still enjoy being teachers once they close the classroom doors and are with their students.

Others said management should first take stock of itself, but mustn’t rule out the possibility that an employee may just be a nuisance, no matter what anybody does. Reader Sergio wrote:

I agree with Drucker that management must first look inward to understand if they themselves are at the root of negative co-workers’ behavior. I’ve seen situations where management . . . took corrective action to undoubtedly improve the working environment (i.e. fewer meetings, improved trust) but co-workers decided it wasn’t enough. [EXPAND More]

Reader Maverick18 was unmoved:

The majority of businesses are small businesses and any manager of a small business knows that when an employee is toxic, i.e. impacts the working team and work environment more negatively than positively, he or she has to go. It’s a competitive issue. Businesses can’t afford to maintain toxic employees, especially when there are so many applicants with positive potential to choose from.

And reader Greg Zerovnik pointed to General Electric’s Jack Welch, who evaluated employees within a quadrant of qualities: good bottom-line numbers versus bad bottom-line numbers, and good values versus bad values. Promote good/good, and fire bad/bad. As for the rest:

In category three are those who don’t make the numbers, but have good values. Counsel them, give them another chance. Then, if they turn the numbers around, keep them. If not, they need to go. Lastly, those who make the numbers but have poor and/or destructive values: fire them right away. There’s no saving those with a bad value set.

Actually, maybe they can find new jobs on Wall Street. [/EXPAND]