When Grace Isn’t Grace Anymore

Some leaders have a very small tolerance for below average performance, mistakes, and employees who take a while to get in their groove. Other leaders enjoy helping the stragglers and misfits work through their challenges and find success.

Different jobs and different leaders have different levels of acceptability when it comes to the grace period an employee has to step up and perform to expectations. No one wants to undergo brain surgery with a surgeon who is “still figuring things out!”

In business, and especially among growing companies, we have to have some sort of patience for employees who may not hit their numbers the first few weeks. We’re coaching, they’re learning. We help them overcome their challenges, and they make progress. At least that’s how it’s supposed to go.

The balance a lot of leaders have trouble finding is when does the grace run out? To put it more bluntly, when does our patience and coaching and empathy look less like grace and more like enabling? Do they get six weeks to catch on? Six months? What constitutes real progress? Here are some indicators your teammate has run out of grace:

  • Their performance shows no signs of improving.
  • They continue to offer excuses.
  • They take a lot of your time and energy but don’t bring results.
  • They violate your non-negotiables or cause you to lower your standards.
  • They’re having a negative impact on the rest of the team.
  • You know in your gut things aren’t going to improve.

Yes, this all sounds negative, and yes, it’s a real downer to have to admit to yourself that perhaps a particular teammate may need help transitioning out of their existing role. But, it also bring clarity. We are not helping a teammate when we allow them to continue to struggle, make excuses, and languish in a role where they cannot or will not excel. It’s frustrating for you, stressful for them, and maybe worse of all, it punishes your performers who are exceeding your expectations.

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