Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

Leadership: 4 Strategies Dealing with Incompetent People



Yes, incompetent employees – whether they have difficult personalities or they simply under-perform – can be aggravating. But they don’t have to be.

For whatever reason when employees fail to perform, it’s still vital for managers to show leadership by maintaining their cool.

Why? For two reasons:

Firstly, managers should never give away their personal power by getting angry. Secondly, it isn’t always possible to fire incompetence.

So a manager must step up and show leadership – with detachment, not indifference. Yes, there is a difference.

With detachment, leaders methodically reflect on a problem with emotional intelligence. (More on this later in the Coach’s Corner.) They understand the root causes and take positive action.

However, with indifference, managers don’t act with leadership. They don’t accurately analyze the reasons for the problem. Consequently, they act with haste not with emotional sobriety.

In fact, great managers actually know how to enjoy their jobs even with difficult employees.

id-10091536So leaders know to use four techniques:

1. Communicating

The first indicator of issues is a lack of communication and missing information.

As a result, people resort to making false assumptions.

When issues manifest themselves as problems – poor sales, for example – employees point fingers.  That results in stress, tension and poor morale.

Despite being surrounded by incompetent workers, leaders know they have to act like the only adult in the room.

Leaders set parameters and procedures for communication. They give examples of how they want the employees to engage in discussions.

This usually entails meetings or one-to-one discussions with documentation. That means written follow-ups on which employees can refer later.

2. Record-keeping

For situations involving toxic workers, there are always unnecessary challenges. But they must be addressed.

The best option is always to take preventative measures – with transparency and documentation. That’s right, document everything.

3. Staying calm

While it’s true that incompetence is infuriating, leaders don’t show it.

They take precautions with plenty of rest, recreation and exercise. Should tensions rear their ugly heads, leaders do what they need to do to stay calm.

That might mean taking a break, going for a walk or talking with a sounding board.

Even leaders get to where they are because they have a role model or mentor – someone who listens, provides empathy and provides objective feedback.

They brace themselves.

Leaders always consider the big picture – the overall welfare of the company. Leaders know that emotional sobriety with mental preparation is vital for success.

They know if they’re detached, other employees rise to the occasion and deliver strong performances to offset incompetent team members.

In other words, they deliberate and they don’t make rash decisions with hurried actions.

4. Coaching

Frustrations from dealing with difficult employees coincide with many issues for management – teamwork, morale, organizational dysfunction and weak customer relationships – just to name a handful.

They’re all related to loss of profit. So, toxic employees warrant coaching tactics.

Furthermore, to effectively replace mediocrity with strong performance, leaders optimize talent by developing a coaching culture.

If your suppliers or strategic partners are dysfunctional, you can effectively deal with them. The key is to coach your vendors and strategic partners.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources of information:

How to Grow Your EI for Leadership Success — Emotional intelligence (EI) is important for communication and leadership. A person who has EI is able to evaluate, understand, and control emotions.

Trending – the 7 Biggest Challenges for Management — In our complex Digital-Age economy with Millennials replacing baby boomers, we can draw some conclusions about developing trends. Management typically faces seven workforce challenges.

5 Top Leadership Philosophies in Business Management — From Seattle to Singapore, top managers show leadership by coaching their teams to success. They accomplish goals with five habitual philosophies.

Leadership Tips for Executing Strategy to Defeat Threats — Multiple solutions might work to triumph over a threat, but a global study in 20 sectors in 20 countries shows execution trumps strategy. Here’s how leaders execute strategy.

5 Traits of People Who Deliver Bad News Well — Are you nervous about giving bad news to others? Do you wish you were good at it? If you answer yes to either question, here are five traits of good messengers.

As Trustworthy Leaders, Great Bosses Have 5 Traits — Trust, or lack of it, is an obstacle to leadership. It’s a mega issue in America. It’s reached crisis proportions. Published polls show Americans distrust their political leaders, journalists and CEOs. So it’s obvious there are countless missed opportunities in politics, the news media and business. A Stanford professor provides solutions.

“I always tell employees: ‘The group’s benefit is more important than your personal benefit.’”

-Terry Gou


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.