I manage a team and have a staffer who was hired for a specific piece of business. The more I watch her in action, the more I think she’s in over her head. She is trying, she’s just not getting it done. I’ve given direction and offered my support. I don’t want to be a micromanager and I’m not sure whether to step in or let her struggle. Thoughts? D.H., New York, NY
The key question is whether or not she’s capable of doing the job she was hired for. Your goal is to determine whether it’s an issue of ability, training, or attitude. If she’s unable to do the job, then it’s a fit issue. If she’s able but lost, then it’s a training issue. Since you already said she’s trying, it’s probably not an attitude issue.
If it’s an issue of fit, it’s much more humane—and a better business decision—to identify the problem quickly and work to rectify it. Otherwise you’ll risk compromising the quality of your team’s work and creating a long-term confidence problem for the staffer. If this is your situation, in the short term you’re going to need to step in more directly than normal.
If it’s a training issue, give her an “out” by serving up your conclusion as an oversight on the company’s part and tell her you’re going to help fill in the training gaps. You want to create a safe space where she can honestly tell you where she’s struggling. Right now you’re making an assumption about where she’s confused. There could be other, equally critical areas that need to be addressed.
If it’s an attitude issue, you’ll need to evaluate the staffer’s ability to adapt. Nothing takes down a team more quickly than a member with a bad attitude.