How Do You Know When to Bench an Employee?

by Joe Lavelle on January 17, 2012

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I could join with the thousands of other writers who are blogging about Tim Tebow these days, because I certainly count myself as among those who are intrigued by his story and the media attention he is receiving.  But, today I want to focus on two other quarterbacks who had high-profile moments recently and ask the question — When do you decide to pull someone from the game?

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Rothelisberger played against the aforementioned Tebow and his fellow Broncos in a playoff game on January 8.  “Big Ben” had been struggling with a left ankle injury for the past several weeks and painfully endured sixty minutes on the field.  After the Steelers’ stunning loss that afternoon, many questioned why head coach Mike Tomlin allowed Rothelisberger to play the entire game, or even the games in the weeks that preceded the playoffs.  Is there a point at which a leader needs to admit that even one of his most valued players is not performing in the best interest of the entire team?

Just two days later, LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson played the second half of the BCS Championship Game against Alabama with boos raining down from the stands that were coming from the fans of his own team.  He was wholly ineffective as the Tigers went on to lose 21-0 and become the first team in BCS history to go scoreless in a title game.  Head coach Les Miles was widely criticized for not removing Jefferson in favor of second-string quarterback Jarrett Lee, who had proven capable of starting several games earlier in the season.

I use sports analogies on this site on a regular basis because the transfer of principles from the competitive athletic world to the world of business and entrepreneurship is clear.  In your business or profession, is it difficult for you to admit when an employee or partner in whom you have built a lot of trust and confidence has faltered?  How do you balance loyalty to a valued co-worker and the need to do what is best for the rest of your office?

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