Covering Up Incompetence

I had an interesting talk today with one of my employees. I try to find some time every few weeks to just hang out and talk about life with each of them because it is surprising how much I learn from that. Like today. Regular readers may remember that I had some problems with a key employee. He has gotten better, but has not improved nearly as much as I thought. Instead, he his incompetence has started to be covered for by his subordinates. They are great people to have because they pick up this extra responsibility, but they also don't want to be whiners so they haven't been saying anything to me about it. This one problem employee has retaliated against his staff and made them scared to go above him to me.

I can fix this problem very easily. I've already taken enough steps that firing him will come as no surprise to anyone except him (only because he thinks he is great, despite our numerous conversations about how he has dropped the ball). But I am very concerned about how to prevent this in the future. Many of you have probably worked with someone who slacked off while management never seemed to notice. But as a manager, how do you make sure you do notice when someone isn't pulling their weight?

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