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Submitted by donm on


BLUF: What would you do if you had a low-performing skip who took time off from work, and you had iron-clad proof that during the time off, he was job hunting?

I have a skip who took some time off today to purportedly do some quasi-work-related errands. This skip has been with the company for a little less than a year. His performance has been lacking. He is basically lazy, and puts more effort into avoiding work than doing work. He has performed a few minor tasks well, but on a scale of 1 to 5, he barely rates a 2.

Most of my skips are high 4's or 5's. I've been speaking about this skip with his manager for the last two months or so. We have come to the conclusion that he wants the job and paycheck, but he just doesn't like the work part of it all. This was before today's occurrence.

This skip had sent me a LinkedIn request right after he went to work for us. I accept LI requests from anyone I know. I use LinkedIn very rarely, but I have found it useful for finding some suppliers I would not have otherwise found. I find it mostly worthless for networking, but maybe that's just me. In any case, this skip is part of my LinkedIn network.

For the last month or so, this skip has been "liking" and responding to any job-search post on LI. Of course, all of these actions come up on my LI feed. Today, while the skip was out on the errand, I saw that I had gotten a LinkedIn request from a disinterested third party, so I signed in to LI to answer the request. I glanced at my feed, and thought, "Oh, the skip is at it again." I did a double-take. It said he had answered the post 33 seconds earlier.

I thought, "Maybe LI requests aren't synchronized very well." I then refreshed my screen. The 33 second old request became three minutes, and another, new job hunt "like" came up from the same skip. He was doing this "live" as I was watching.

In addition, everyone in his position is issued a laptop computer for their job and reports while in the field. He was also using the laptop I had provided to do these posts.

So, back to the bottom line: How would you handle this?

JonathanGiglio's picture
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To be fair, you can't cut him off from his opportunities from food, clothing, and shelter - you can only manage his work product for you as he works for you.

That said, you can "manage him out" on your time schedule instead of waiting for his. Personally, I'd work to replace him as quickly as possible as he seems to be working in replacing you (his employer) in a similar time frame.

You could try to be direct with feedback: "when I see you 'liking' job posts on LinkedIn during work time, you are not giving your attention to the company during work hours. What can you do differently?" Unfortunately, it will be difficult to discipline him for using LinkedIn - even if to scout for other jobs. This isn't Facebook due to its quasi-professional network. And even so, he can always do this on his off time or just hide his updates from you. To be fair, he doesn't seem professional enough to keep his job searching separate from his work and you probably should not rely on him anyway.

Finally - make sure to protect your online professional network as well. De-Linking someone is the height of unprofessional behavior in my opinion, but just make sure he doesn't rely on you openly or attempt to use you as a reference. Make sure that you have not endorsed him for anything as well.

Good luck!


mike_bruns_99's picture
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Seriously.  In a one-on-one or review, have their manager say to them: 

"Direct, it's been a year and things are not working out.  I also know you've been on the job-search sites.  I think that's a good decision on your part, and here's the resume-guide I would use."  If he asks if he's fired, the answer is no, just that another opportunity would be a better fit, sooner rather than later.

If he's effective while he's looking for another job, fine.  If he checks-out or doesn't perform, fire him.


While being on the job-boards during work hours on a work computer is not ideal, to me it's no different than them checking facebook or streaming the world-cup during work hours.   If they perform effectively, no big deal.  if they don't perform, the issue is not facebook.  It's that they're not performing.

BariTony's picture

 I'm going through a similar situation right now. Sounds like you've committed to helping them improve their performance, which is great. If they decide to move on, it's probably better. If there's a skill gap or they don't like the working environment and they feel that they can't (or won't) improve the situation, I think it's perfectly fine to let them go. It'll save you the trouble of terminating them.

The only red flag is taking time off from work. As long as they have PTO and they're using it, no big deal. If they're not taking PTO and looking for a job on the company's dime, that's a problem.

Don't put too much stock in LinkedIn. You said yourself that you accept invites from anyone you know. A lot of people will accept invites to anyone who sends them. That holds true for recruiters as well. And it doesn't necessarily mean anything, though I'm a bit surprised that it never occurred to him to change his account settings so that his contacts couldn't see each other and LinkedIn stops sending updates to all of his contacts on everything he's doing...




donm's picture
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"The only red flag is taking time off from work. As long as they have PTO and they're using it, no big deal. If they're not taking PTO and looking for a job on the company's dime, that's a problem."

I'm in Dubai. Things are different here (sort of like the adage, "You're unique, just like everyone else."). He is on my dime right now. We don't really have PTO in the sense you're using it, so I'm paying him while he's doing this hunt, as well as the fact he's on a computer that I have provided him.

Just to give you an example of some of the unique challenges we have here, we often have to wait up to two weeks to get visas for our men to travel to do their jobs. Sometimes, we cannot send folks on jobs because their nationality cannot get a visa to that country. Sometimes, it is their job title that stops them from getting a visa. Many of my guys do not have driver's licenses, and even those who have licenses have restrictions such as "automatic transmission only." Sometimes, the person requires a certain certification such as having passed an industrial seminar on how to escape from a ditched helicopter (HUET), how to install equipment in hazardous areas, or how to operate special purpose equipment.

For most of the items above, I usually pay for the course, provide transportation, and pay the man while he's at the course, as well as a meal stipend and hotel or similar costs. This is normal in any industry for the required courses.

What does one do about the driver's license? I can't really pay the man to take a two-month-long course, but I do facilitate the time off when we have some slack time in the shop. This is where the man has been going - to get a driver's license. We reimburse a large portion of the fee for the course once it is completed, and we pay for the time he must take off from work to do the course. None of this PTO was done prior to my arrival nor was the reimbursement done for getting the license at all. I've authorized the time off, and our GM allows me to run my group as I see fit. I know he is not thrilled with my liberal time off policies, but he likes my overall results, so he's basically hands off, but eyes on.

This man has taken advantage of a policy that I'm already being questioned about, which just makes it harder for me to justify future policies. Add this to the fact that he's a low performer, even before this breach of etiquette (if not policy), and you come to the point where I am now.

I have decided to wait until his manager returns from a short hiatus. I will show the manager my proof of the man's perfidy, and let him do what he wants.

The fact that I'm stepping back doesn't mean that I don't feel a bit of a personal affront due to this man's lack of morals or lack of a sense of gratitude for the generosity I've shown him. I know that it sounds strange in today's business climate, but I am loyal to my people, and I hope for a bit of loyalty in return. I guess that's the crux of this. I am personally disappointed in this man's actions. Going back to arm's length will get my emotions out of this, I hope.

As an aside, this situation proves to me that my High-I is genuine (4-7-3-1). I might act C-ish or D-ish to get my  job done, but this kind of action hits me in my heart. From a quick internet search: "The hardest thing for a High-I to accept is rejection."

For those who think "TL;DR": He was on my dime, but I'm stepping back to let his manager handle this.

JonathanGiglio's picture
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Interesting information you were able to provide. I think most of us had assumed an American office type working environment. If anything, a good lesson in not jumping to conclusions. That said - the guy seems to be abusing his privileges and you certainly do not want his bad behavior to negatively impact your team. Far too often do we see policies enacted that damage the entire team just for one bad actor. Is managing this the most effective use of your time? Or are there other areas you can focus on to help your team perform better? You'll know when you feel enough pain to act. If you and your company are providing all of this support and the abuse continues, stepping in may be your only recourse.

There are still two considerations that I'm sure you go through every day when thinking about him.


1) Should I still be spending training resources on this worker if he is going to squander them? This isn't about training people who are going to leave, but about where to put the company resources to get the most bang for your buck.

2) How quickly can I find someone to replace him? It seems that the travel visas and skill requirements can be somewhat challenging to come by. And if this is the case - is there any way to coach his performance upward? This is a two way street after all and if you can invest in him, perhaps there is a chance at redemption.

Best of luck to you!

donm's picture
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"Is managing this the most effective use of your time?" Certainly not. It was just something that I was the witness to while I was filling in for his manager during the manager's absence, so I will be the one to bring it to this man's manager's attention. I had written a warning (yes, "written warning") and signed it, but I have since determined to dispose of this and leave it to his manager.

"...are there other areas you can focus on to help your team perform better?" Most definitely. I am the trainingest* director you've ever met. My goal is to improve my team every day.  (* I needed the word, so I coined it.)

"Should I still be spending training resources on this worker if he is going to squander them?" I teach a course that is de rigueur in our industry. In some positions, lack of this course certificate means you do not qualify for the position. He has attended said course, but I have not yet given him his certificate. Heretofore, I would give the certificate upon completion of the course, but as two of my men have left using said certificate to obtain their new position, I now withhold the certificate for one year before giving my people control of it. This man has attended the course, but has not yet been awarded his certificate. I will maintain my policy of "one year until awarded." Also, as noted, I have sent him to other courses for certificates, as I do all of my men. I have other courses upcoming. I doubt I nominate this man for any of them. This, in turn, sabotages his ability to grow within my group, so am I now creating a self-fulfilling prophecy? He won't advance because I give him no additional training, because he is soliciting positions outside my company. Yet, by giving him no training, he becomes less useful to our group, which means his worth will decrease, causing us to eventually terminate him.

"How quickly can I find someone to replace him?" We hire mainly entry-level engineers. In the US, I had an expectation that I would lose 75% of my workforce every year, as they tired of the workload and other variables within our workload. I have lost less than 10% of my workforce in the nearly three years I have been in my present situation. This is especially poignant when it comes to a man such as this low performer: Should I terminate him because of his detrimental effect on the rest of my team? But to answer the quoted question: I could replace him within a week. We train from within, so any recent engineering graduate can take his place overnight. As this man is a low performer, his loss would not impact our shops practically at all.