Employers: Do You Have a Stale Employee?

Posted by Bernie Reifkind on February 14, 2017

If so, why do you retain this person?

Consider this. When you go to the market would you ever intentionally buy stale milk with an expired “use by” date?

Of course not. Nor would you keep stale milk. After a while it smells.  Even if food is presumed to be stale, we of course toss it immediately. No one wants to risk getting sick.

So in the context of running a business, why then would an employer keep a stale employee?

What makes for a stale employee…… and more importantly why hold on to someone who has passed their “expiration date”?

A stale employee can be measured by their current effectiveness and by their current results.

To be fair, stale may be too harsh of a label. Some people need a proverbial kick in the pants to remind them why they are employed. But too much kicking can be sore to the foot.

These are the mighty two:

• Current effectiveness
• Current results

If you are employing someone and they are no longer effective or even if they’ve become a nuisance, than perhaps that employee is stale. Have you seen current and meaningful results rather than past glories?

Things change and what an employer may have needed in the past is maybe not what is needed or relevant currently. Can it be utterly gut wrenching to come to the conclusion that an employee has become stale?

Yes of course.

However think about if the situation were reversed. If your organization was becoming stale to an ambitious employee, that same employee would no doubt be looking for greener pastures.

With growth, comes growing pains. A stale employee can be an impediment to the growth or profitability to your company. When that happens a stale employee needs to be replaced with a fresh blood.

Someone with new ideas, new energy and a new style can be the steroid needed to explode your company to even higher levels of productivity and profit.

Once an employer realizes that an employee is stale, there is an enlightenment that follows.

In addition, there can be much new excitement that your organization is once again back on track to accomplish its mission for even being in business.

What to do next?

Begin a confidential search for a replacement. Maybe there is someone on your team that you may have been overlooking that has the right skill set and can step up to the plate.

Pay attention to anyone on your staff that you could imagine in a different role. Sometimes, the answer is right in front of our noses.

However, many times the situation calls for bringing in a trusted executive search professional to see what kind of talent might be available.

Either way there are costs involved in replacing a key employee. But there is a far greater cost in keeping a stale employee.

The investment in a fresh new staff member or a manager pays dividends. It also reminds your other employees to not lose sight of their own responsibilities.

Lastly, you may gain some additional respect from your colleagues and how can that be a bad thing?

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