Don’t be afraid to let go of underperforming team members

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

When working on a lengthy project, it's tempting to keep a team together at all costs. After all, you've probably developed a good working relationship with most of your team. You've spent many hours together, planning and executing this project and possibly others.

Unfortunately, some team members may not be working out.

Hard as it may be to do, project managers should be prepared to let poorly performing team members go.

A recent post on the Harvard Business Review blog explains why this can be such a difficult decision. Contributor Ron Ashkenas writes that many managers find it hard to fire employees for fear of looking like a heartless boss to the rest of the team. Similarly, sometimes managers are afraid to let an employee go if he or she has a relationship with an important project stakeholder.

Often, it comes down to managers not trusting their instincts. Since managers are inherently reluctant to let anyone go, they find it difficult to take such a step without a substantial evidence to support it. Such evidence is usually hard to come by.

Ashkenas argues that managers often need to take the long view and do what is needed to keep their team productive. While it's seldom pleasant to lay someone off, it's a crucial part of a project manager's job.

At New Leaf Project Management, our 2-day program, "Leading the Project Team," shows you how to manage any team situation for the best possible outcome. In addition, our online QPM games make it easy to learn while you earn PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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