I laughed out loud when I first heard the term “tattoo regret,” but I know first-hand that, in a human workplace, there’s a threshold moment when a manager realizes he’s got employee regret. An employee isn’t working out – but it’s not funny, and not easy to fix.
The actual problem might be the employee’s abilities, or it might be a “motivation” issue – or some combination of both – that adds up to a non-fit. The main thing is, the difference between what had been originally hoped for, and what has turned out to be true, can no longer be ignored.
Handling the particular situation well requires one kind of strategy. Insuring that it mostly doesn’t happen again – prevention – is the better approach for the long haul, and hinges on learning the right lessons.
Obviously, a manager begins by managing his or her own feelings. That’s crucial, especially since everything changes the instant an employee senses you’re no longer thrilled they’re on your team. Be prepared for a range of responses, including denial and aggression, when you broach the problem.
For you, the manager, remember – it’s always about the work and work performance. Your demeanor and use of language should convey that, and only that.
Prevention is the key:
Monitor that “uh oh” feeling, and head toward problems early.
Invest time in mentoring and/or coaching the employee without even hinting that you’re too busy, or that you’re annoyed you have to do it.
Remember, until that threshold (time to terminate) is crossed – it isn’t. Your focus is helping your employee succeed, and first approaching things as problems to be understood and solved – really.
As a purely practical matter, authentically helping an employee succeed increases the likelihood the effort will bear fruit, and decreases the likelihood there will be unreasonable fallout if it doesn’t.
It’s not quite win-win, but it’s a reasonable facsimile. After that, yes, you may have to do what was going to need to be done anyway. But you’ll know you did it the right way.