One of my team refuses to read his emails. Nothing I say persuades him - what can I do?

If after constant warnings, he doesn't mend his ways then you may need to fire him, says Jeremy Bullmore.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 23 Feb 2016

Q: One of my team never reads his email and it's really driving me nuts. I have to waste time explaining things to him that he should know already - like the fact that he should have prepared something for the weekly all-staff meeting, or that he's about to miss a deadline. In exasperation I have now taken to barking 'Read your email' at him when he asks one of these questions, but that doesn't work either. Any suggestions?

Jeremy says: Is this person utterly brilliant at drumming up new business? Did his maiden aunt invest several million pounds in your company? Is his godfather your company's biggest client? If the answer to all these questions is no, then I don't understand why you continue to employ him. (If he suffers from some unfortunate disability that would justify you treating him with unusual thoughtfulness, I feel sure you'd have mentioned it.)

Failing to fire people who deserve to be fired - who've been given all the support, all the training, all the warnings and yet continue to be clearly inadequate - can be seriously damaging to office morale. Workers don't automatically side with each other against the management. When they see one of their own consistently underperforming and being allowed to get away with it, they properly think the worse of management. So consult with HR on the proper procedures; then let this inadequate creature know, in writing, that he's on notice; and exactly what he'll have to do, and over what period of time, to have that threat withdrawn. Then apply the procedure relentlessly, with no slippage and no second thoughts.

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