3 Critical Leadership Mistakes That Make Your Employees Miserable

Career Advice

‘Being an outstanding leader is a piece of cake,’ said no one ever. With the amount of responsibility that comes with the territory, you won’t always get it all right. You are human and a few mistakes are bound to happen. However, there are three critical mistakes that when allowed to continue, can demoralize your team.

Mistake # 1: Keeping Bad People

The use of the word “toxic” when referring to employees may seem overused and clichéd in today’s work environment, but sometimes you have an employee who is dangerous. No, not physically dangerous. They are poisonous to the company because their actions and behaviors can have far-reaching tentacles that stretch out and contaminate your team. These employees are the ones whose hostile and manipulative actions turn the culture into a place that makes other employees dread coming to work.

When you keep these employees, they will drain the company’s resources and impact employee morale. One study conducted by the Harvard Business School  found that if you avoid hiring a toxic worker initially,  it will save a company around $12,500 in potential induced turnover costs. Induced turnover costs is defined as the expense of replacing additional workers lost in response to the presence of a toxic worker on a team. In reality, that figure may be higher because the total estimated cost does not include other potential costs, such as litigation, regulatory penalty, and reduced employee morale.

If you keep this type of employee, their attitude will impact your entire organization until more team members become infected. Your best employees will leave. When that happens, you’re left with toxic and underperforming employees.

 Mistake # 2: Putting People in The Wrong Jobs

Your goal with talent acquisition is to hire the right person for the right job. That is not always as simple as it sounds. Managers want the hiring stars to be aligned.  They want a person who has a fantastic work ethic, sparkling personality, and superior technical skills. And, oh, did I mention they also want someone who fits the company culture and who is capable of carrying out the company mission?

You can see why it is not always done properly. You may end up hiring the right person for the organization but that doesn’t always equate to hiring the right person for the job.

You can spot the warning signs early on. But, hey, they are nice and have a great attitude.  Because hiring is expensive, you want to make it work. Months can sail by and the employee never adds value in the specific role.

The truth is no matter how much training or coaching you give them, it may never be the right role. The sooner you come to terms with that and make an adjustment, the better.

Mistake # 3: Keeping People in The Wrong Jobs

Long gone are the days when you could spend an entire career in a single position with the same company. Today’s organizations must be agile. Employees must have the same agility.

We have rapidly changing technology as well as an ever-changing consumer market. Clients and customers expect top-notch competent service. One crucial skill a manager must learn is how to allocate team resources appropriately while using everyone according to their strengths.

Some people thrive in advancing organizations, while others may not rise to the challenge. When you allow a person to continue in a position that is wrong for them, you are continually trying to fit the square peg in the round hole. You may eventually make it fit but not without a lot of pounding and some irreparable damage.

Does This Mean You Fire Everyone?

No, not at all. You may not be able to salvage the toxic employee but that doesn’t mean that you cannot make some adjustments to the employee’s responsibilities or explore options like additional training, coaching, or job transitions. Having the right people for the organization in the wrong job can be fixed – if you recognize it and act before it can do damage to your project, team, and company.

If your other team members constantly play clean-up for their teammates, that is emotionally draining. They will eventually leave. Turnover is costly on any level, but how much will it cost to replace your top talent when they leave because performance issues have not been dealt with accordingly? That’s the question.

Jan Johnston Osburn is a Certified Career Coach and Organizational Consultant. Her organizational specialties are Talent Acquisition, Training, and Leadership Development. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Buckingham, UK, and has certifications in Executive Coaching and Advanced Social Media. Her website is www.JanJohnstonOsburn.Com.

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