Is It Time to Get Rid of That Disappointing Employee?

The Phillies recently demoted their underperforming third baseman, Maikel Franco. Should you take a play from their book?
Is It Time to Get Rid of That Disappointing Employee?
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President of The Marks Group
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Ever heard of Maikel Franco? Maybe you haven’t. But fans of the Philadelphia Phillies know him.

Up until recently, Franco was the Phillies starting third baseman. He arrived in the major leagues in 2014 swinging a big bat and bringing big expectations. And although he's had some great moments (like this awesome walk off against the Nationals earlier this season), Franco has overall just been, well, a big disappointment.

Related: Why You Should Fire Yourself

In a career 635 games and 2,479 plate appearances Franco has produced 100 home runs and a below-expectation .249 batting average. Even as a day-to-day starter, Franco never got into a consistent groove. After hitting .280 with 22 home runs in his first full year in the majors (2015) he dipped down to .230 the next year and this year -- after a hot start -- his average is only .231. So what did the Phillies do? They demoted him to the minor leagues.

“This felt like an appropriate time to make a very difficult move for our clubhouse because we all care deeply about Maikel Franco,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’s an exceptional teammate and person and we all love him."

Related: Avoid Elon Musk-Style Firing Sprees by Having Hard Conversations Sooner

Kapler's right. Franco has always had a great attitude both on the field and in the clubhouse. He's also a fine defensive player. He’s a nice guy. But unfortunately the Phillies -- who have been struggling this year -- just needed more from their third baseman and have other players who could fill the role at least as good, if not better. So a move was made.

As a fan, I was disappointed because I really liked the guy.  But as a business owner and manager I get it. It's been almost five years! Did the Phillies simply wait too long to make this move? More importantly: Are you potentially doing the same with your Maikel Franco?

He’s the employee that -- even though he's a good guy and people love him and he was hired with high expectations -- just isn't cutting it? Whether you have five, 10 or 100 people working for you, let’s face it: You know who that person is. There's always a pecking order, and there are the people who are making you money and those who are just ... overhead. Shouldn't you be looking at the bottom 10 percent every year and doing what the Phillies did? Aren’t you also in the big leagues?

Related: Straight Talk: How To Have Good Difficult Conversations

Some big companies have that attitude. Netflix, according to some reports, has what's called a "keeper test" where managers are regularly asked, “If one of the members of the team was thinking of leaving for another firm, would I try hard to keep them from leaving?” Amazon reportedly tracks its warehouse workers closely, and terminates those who aren't meeting specific productivity metrics. People -- like myself -- who have worked in the competitive environments of Big 4 accounting firms like KPMG or Deloitte are familiar with the industry's "up or out" policies, where employees are strongly encouraged to "move on" if they're not able to perform the responsibilities that would lead to their promotion. 

Harsh? Perhaps. But don't you, as a business owner, have a responsibility to not only make money and grow your company, but also to ensure that your company continues to thrive and provide a livelihood for your employees and their families? Of course you do. Which is why keeping on a mediocre performer is hurting everyone. And who knows? Maybe your company's culture or environment is what's causing that one person to not do the kind of job they're capable of doing. Maybe a change of scenery would be best for all.

Related: The Secret to Hard Conversations With Staff

Maybe that's also the case for Maikel Franco. If released -- as expected -- by the Phillies at the end of the season, maybe he'll join another team where a fresh start will provide him some spark and rejuvenate his career. I really hope so, for his sake. We'll likely be seeing him at least one more time come the roster expansion on September 1st. I think it'll be the last. The Phillies -- like any organization -- are just trying to win. So shouldn't you be doing the same?

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