I lead a team of consultants. Recently, I removed a colleague from the team due to performance issues. He was with the team for 6-8 weeks. I suspect he had mental health issues. A co-team lead, who speaks his native language, talked to him and he denied health or personal issues.
Project-wise or disciplinary, he is "not my problem" any more, which makes this question about the contradicting goals of not causing him not to potentially needed professional help and be supported by the company and not potentially harming his career by needlessly speculating.
Currently, he is still with the company. My opinion that he has mental health issues was getting firmer and firmer, because his performance was bad beyond imagination. He showed, what in my opinion are, clear symptoms of a quickly developing mental issue. For example, when analyzing his emails over the two months, there was a clear deterioration in coherence. He had concentration issues or memory problems inconsistent with his academic record.
So, the situation is like this:
- I suspect a mental issue which, if untreated, has bad consequences for him, which should be avoided. However, this is speculation, and I do not want to get him into trouble over it.
- If I did not take the mental issue into account, I would recommend firing him on the basis of his performance, which should not be done without evaluating if he can actually recover.
- I need to warn the manager about putting him on another project with the customer. His performance hurts our reputation with the customer, and we had to put in additional effort to clean up after him, which I feel obliged to report to his manager.
- I assume he will not get help from the company without me intervening.
How should I balance between reporting to HR/management about a colleague's suspected health issue, making sure that his current performance is known to the manager, and the colleague getting support from the company?
Note: I am not looking for answers addressing the legal issues around the question.
Added after answers:
Why i believe he has a mental health issue:
He has a masters degree in an engineering subject, however he failed at the following things, which is inconsistent with his academic record:
- Realizing that a matrix (in that case 18*18) in actually square and working for several hours under the hypothesis that it isn't.
- in general, being ~10 times slower than he should be at things which are clearly basic math for engineers
- Not being able to construct a simple math example, suitable for a 10th grade textbook question
- Not being able to write a modified "hello world" program (only purpose: fill up the harddrive space)
- not being able to have a focused look and remember the mistake which somebody fixed for him in the hello world program (an crucial operator had to be added), and 10 min later reproducing a few of the characters, without the operator (i.e. instead of " "*10000 he wrote "100000" in python)
- not being able to communicate problems (e.g. the equation system is singular) in any meaningful or timely way
- ignoring completely things which he does not understand
- terribly bad at detecting if he has complete information
- botched up contextual structure of communication (mostly a sketchy contextualization at best)
- not being able to follow a 1-3 line long simple instruction (like first do a, then do b very often resulted in him in doing b or something completely different without any communication)
- complete mis-estimation of his skills (i.e. claiming to be good in a programming language where he checks in code which cant be interpreted)
- complete misunderstanding of the skills and capacity of the team around him - he would not even recognize the meaning that his colleague or me realized problems (math, simple linear algebra - roughly 1st semester) in 10seconds which he worked for on for a whole day
- not understanding the hierarchy in the team or any other social structure
- not drawing his conclusions from being reprimanded after a few weeks about his performance an behavior
- Trying to advocate using a certain low-level concept in software for a change of the programming language while he should have been working very clearly on something else, with the following properties: We already used one of the languages in the code, but he did not realize it. The language which he wanted to remove (according to him his area of expertise) actually also has the low level feature he claimed not to be available. Himself not having any experience in the other languages which he suggested.
- his work in general being completely unstructured, even when the structure was explicitly set for him in a "first do this, then report, then do that" way.
Edit: Solution chosen I followed the answer which I selected in the following way: I warned is manager and HR that having him in contact with customers is most likely to be counterproductive for the company, and i described his performance issues in moderate detail. I made it clear that some issues were not plainly unexpected individually, but far outside the expected range of the population with his qualifications. I finished by adding a paragraph were I put a general recommendation to put him to a low stress task and provide him with coaching for his professional development and support in handling situations which exceed his capacity to handle difficult situations professionally.