Performance issue? You can do three things:
- Deal with it.
- Ignore it.
- Create a brand new position to do some of the work of the person in question (without firing the incumbent), which is a form of #2.
Do people actually loathe dealing with performance issues to the extent that they create new positions to avoid the tough decisions?
Why, yes they do. Got a high profile one for you today. The Philadelphia 76ers (professional basketball) just made a high profile hire in Jerry Colangeo, who is the architect of the men's national basketball program, which has had unbelievable success. They made the hire in part because the current executive in charge of strategy (Sam Hinkie) has had limited success and patience is running thin. More from ESPN.com:
Since the summer of 2014, NBA owners have been lobbying the league's front office to step in with regard to the direction of the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told ESPN.com on Monday night. It was that effort that helped lead to the hiring of Jerry Colangelo to a senior position earlier Monday, the sources said.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver was instrumental in forming the partnership between Colangelo and 76ers owner Joshua Harris, according to the sources.
The 76ers' struggles on the floor have been readily apparent -- they've gone 38-148 over the past two-plus seasons and 1-21 to start this season -- while they undergo a long-term rebuilding process under general manager Sam Hinkie. But it was not the bad basketball as much as the hit to the business side that weighed on the rest of the league.
Owners routinely complained about the economic drag the 76ers were inflicting on the league as the revenues of one of the largest-market teams -- a franchise expected to contribute more robustly to league revenue-sharing -- sagged. For many teams, games featuring the starless and woeful 76ers as the visiting team have been the lowest-attended of the season, sources said.
Last year, the 76ers fought a proposal against reforming the NBA lottery rules because it would've disrupted their rebuilding plan, which is a transparent attempt to gain the highest draft picks possible by maximizing lottery odds over several seasons while developing young players.
So Colangeo was hired to adjust the strategy. There's just one little problem with that strategy - the low performer (Hinkie) remains employed.
Part of the problem is Colangeo's age - he's in his 70's and probably not interested in doing the day to day work that's required in Hinkie's role. So to address the issue, the owners made a decision to bring in a new boss and give him authority over strategy and check off rights on all decisions.
But Hinkie remains. So the 76ers have a more expensive cost structure and a lame duck leader who's strategic direction has just been invalidated by the call to bring in a new boss for him.
In corporate America, these decisions go a couple of different ways:
--We bring in a peer employee at the low performer's position, citing "business is great". It might actually be great, but that's not why we're bringing in a peer. We're hiring another one because the one we have isn't doing great.
--We hire someone to manage the person in question, because we don't have the stones to deal with it.
--We bring in a consultant to do some of the work in question so we get results why we figure out an exit strategy with the low performer.
It's hard managing through performance issues. As a HR pro, when you see these management decisions related to a low performer, you have to ask yourself if the decision to bring in new talent while the incumbent remains is avoidance (they don't want to deal with it) or smart business (they need to get someone trained up before making the call to fire or get better results via the consultant route as they work through the issue).
Shades of gray with no easy answers. Good luck deciding whether your management team are cowards or just freaking smart when it comes to low performers.