As a Coach I meet a lot of people who have been somehow totally sidelined professionally.
The stories are all different and sadly so similar.
Either they were not fitting the mold of their management, or they were “an annoyance” to the company (maybe being a bit too transparent and putting taboos on the table when others would rather have them well hidden under the carpet) or simply not performing according to expectations.
So today I would like to share here a rant : putting someone away on the sideline is a proof of Management’s lack of courage, and in no way a proof of lack of competence from the person who is put away.
Please stop putting people on the bench or in a corner, where they have no way to get out of.
Talk to the people, share with them what is expected of them, set some clear goals. And if the fit really isn’t here, then have this hard talk and share it with them.
Putting an employee on a sideline is to put him/her in a professional position where he/she can’t do anything. The person will be neutralized, powerless, and will slowly fall into depression.
His/Her story is slowly becomming one of a useless person, incompetent when it should actually be a story of new opportunities and agreed “end of collaboration as it is”.
Human beings are seeking to make sense of their daily experiences. They create the stories of their lives by linking events together, in a specific sequence of time, finding a way to explain those events, to make sense of them.
When people are sidelined, they try and make sense of it and obviously the “main” story is that they deserved it somehow, they find “facts” that come to explain why they deserved to be put aside.
An alternative story
Well, let’s find an alternative story, one that will tell us about your forces, skills, competencies, one that you identify as better suited to your lives. You all have lots of different identities, let’s flesh out your preferred one.
Also, when you sideline people, you are sending a message to your organisation : a culture of fear, lack of trust and confidence, lack of respect for the employee. Your employees (even those who you think are performing) will lose confidence in you. The impacts are much more important than on just one person.
So for all of those who are in a corner, sidelined, put away nicely somewhere : this is just one story, it does not define who you are, there are many more stories you can tell, there are many more stories that others can tell about you. Become the author of your life again.
And for those of you who have sidelined someone or thinking of doing it : please don’t. Find it in you to have a very difficult and needed communication with the person, give clarity, vision and you might even be surprised by the result.