Bad Employees Or Bad Leadership?


I’ve never believed in “bad employees”.  In fact, I detest the word “bad” as the connotation is for something more than exhibiting indifferent attitudes or ineffective behavior. However, I do believe that bad leadership exists. In fact, I see more bad leadership than good but that’s another post.

Leadership involves taking responsibility for the actions of yourself and the people who work with you.

If you have B, C or D players it’s your responsibility as the leader to analyze the extent of their potential effectiveness (good or bad) and take the appropriate steps necessary to continue to build success. This doesn’t abrogate the responsibility of the individual for their own actions, but as a leader, you’re responsible for both your people and the business. And in the absence of any self-correction on the part of the individual employee, you must act before the “bad” behavior infects the rest of the staff. This could be anything from re-training to termination. But you must isolate the behavior first or it will infect others.

So if you have an ineffective employee, you have to ask yourself as a leader, how did this employee’s behavior come to manifest itself in your business in the first place?

The answer is that they were probably there the entire time but since;

  1. Your hiring processes include candidate evaluation based on the need for bodies, interviewing skills of those doing the selection that focus on what kind of vegetable you would be if you were a vegetable,  job descriptions that are not based in pragmatic performance skills and responsibilities…
  2. Your training processes are not grounded in actual experiences but manuals with page after page of transactional lists to be memorized and repeated as if you were trying to hard-code a robot to deal with Guests…
  3. Your performance management processes are based more on likability than actual performance metrics (which don’t exist)…
  4. Your Manager’s ability to Coach employees or to deal with conflict or poor performance is relegated to a three write-up thinking process…
  5. Your values as a business are not aligned with those of employees but you hired them anyway because, “you can fix that later”
  6. Your culture subsidizes mediocrity because you’re more about conformity than creative individuality…

I could go on and on but I think you get the point.

So, more than likely, you hired them.

Then you trained them.

Then you evaluated their performance on a shift-by-shift basis to determine not only their readiness to take on the role for which they were hired but also for their potential in growing beyond it into other roles and deemed them fit for service.

So either some issue got missed and the wrong decision was made or else your processes are broken or some combination of both.

But who is really responsible for an employee’s ineffective behavior and it’s impact on the business and the rest of the staff?

You are.

So are there really “bad” employees or is it just “bad” leadership?

For four decades, my Coaching, Consulting, & Learning Events have helped thousands of hospitality leaders worldwide, build successful businesses. Call or text me at +1-817-797-2929 or email me at