I have a team of developers working with me but as we work closely my boss can see what everybody is doing.

I have a developer in team which was in every other team in last 2 years and it did not work for her. So finally my boss landed her in my team. My team is fifth team. Because of her attitude, non-competent behavior, argumentative nature and many other things, every other team lead had rejected her.

My team is kind of last hope for her but still it is not working out. My boss says to wait for 2-3 more months. But I want to do it now as team's attitude is changing and my team might loose its uniqueness and ability and replenishing the motivation will not work later. It has already been one month and I can see the impact. My boss can see too. It something like one rotten apple...........

My company does not normally fire people. So how can I convince my boss to do this now. Or we will have to do lots of work to rebuild the team.

In response to answer ->
So she had worked in like every part of the organization even QA. I have also tried to help her believing that she might not got the opportunity till now by providing different types of work, coordinating to requirement team to lower down pressure as she needs time to learn.

But still her behavior and attitude is not good. Also she had been to every team so she has contact there and trying to downgrade my reputation as well. Me and my team has been appreciated many time, so I have some haters in the organization. And obviously they are trying to grab any opportunity to put me down in management's view.

One more thing, I don't want her to be terminated. I just don't want her in my team.

Question here represents cowroker. In my case I am manager and need to take action so that team does not get demotivated.

  • possible duplicate of How to handle demoralization caused by a slacker in the team?
    – gnat
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 21:46
  • I have updated question [UPDATE2] to differentiate
    – Developer
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 21:59
  • 9
    I know you don't want her terminated, but someone who disrupts your team and doesn't produce doesn't need to be employed by your company. Tell you boss she needs to go and go now, the company has been dragging this lead weight around for too long. Fire her and move on. Don't make it personal, this is business and business it tough, you perform or your out. Commented May 30, 2015 at 21:59
  • 1
    @Developer, Seriously, your edits are really important to the question. Are you sure there's nothing else you need to add? You're in a really tough spot of middle management. Not enough authority to take the right action (termination), but still responsible for her. Not fun. At least you have enough authority to direct her assignments.
    – Kent A.
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 22:01
  • Quit... they will figure out the problem. Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 21:32

5 Answers 5


Since the manager is already aware of the problem and has said it will be 2-3 months before anything will be done, there isn't much more you can do to speed up the decision. Do not do anything unscrupulous to try to make them do anything sooner. That would be wrong, and would likely backfire.

You haven't mentioned whether any attempts have been made to coach her and help her find her strengths and work toward them, either in your team or in another part of the company. If such an attempt has been made and she has not responded favorably, then you can skip the following paragraphs...

If you have 2-3 months to wait, maybe you could see if there are any tasks in the team (or in another team) that she is reasonably well-suited to? Perhaps her under-performance is due to working on things she simply cannot do, but finding her real niche might be a game changer for her and for everyone else?

It can be difficult, and there's always a chance she will refuse to make any adjustments in her attitude or skills, and she might actually have to leave the company. But if it will help her it might be worth it.

Edit: Based on updates to the original question, it appears others have attempted to (re)habilitate this individual, and she continues to be a negative influence, even divisive. If your boss insists on waiting 2-3 months before taking any action, you're just going to have to take measures to limit the damage she can do to your team.

First, understand that if she really is a sour person that has bombed out of every other organization in the company, her ability to influence others is limited. If your team is not well regarded by other teams in the company, it's more likely that they already feel this way and are looking for a reason to not like you, and her attempts to make you look bad aren't really very effective.

Second, you and the rest of your team need to clearly understand what is going on, and resist the urge to start finding problems with each other. It could get ugly before it's all done.

Third, the team leader should assign her tasks that are as insulated as possible from impacting the rest of the team.

Fourth, you should be keeping a written log of problems caused in the team. This is not normally a recommended activity, because nobody wants to have someone tracking their mistakes and weaknesses. But in this case, it is likely she may be terminated, and there will need to be some documentation as to why.

Finally, if she ends up fracturing your team and things are changed beyond repair, you can at least take comfort knowing that you did all you could to save the situation. The fault will rest squarely on your manager for not taking action sooner.

Sorry you're in this situation. I hope it works out well for all of you.

  • I have updated the question about attempts.
    – Developer
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 21:40
  • 3
    Thanks for the motivation and suggestions. :) This really helps as I am from developer background, grew really fast in company to become manager. And now learning from community. Thanks a lot.
    – Developer
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 22:04
  • 6
    The team leader should assign her tasks that are as insulated as possible from impacting the rest of the team. - Could you assign her to work on a "nice-to-have" feature assignment? If she does well, it could be beneficial. If not, it wasn't critical to the product anyway so it can safely be scrapped.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 22:43

My team is fifth team. Because of her attitude, non-competent behavior, argumentative nature and many other things, every other team lead had rejected her.

My team is kind of last hope for her but still it is not working out. My boss says to wait for 2-3 more months.

Does she know all this? If not, you're not really giving her a chance, you're just delaying the inevitable and making life uncomfortable for everyone.

If there are performance concerns, you should follow your company's processes, or find out what the standard is in your jurisdiction.

This will usually involve a) investigating allegations, b) allowing the employee a chance to see the evidence and dispute the allegations at a meeting (accompanied by their union rep or companion), c) deciding whether there is indeed a problem, and d) writing up a time-limited plan (e.g. 3 months) with clear, defined, realistic and measurable goals, and discussing with her what support she needs to achieve those goals (sometimes called a 'performance improvement plan'). Check in regularly to feed back, be patient and remember the change won't be instant, you're looking for evidence of improvement over that time. Meet again after that period with her and go through the targets to see which were met. If they were, she stays, if not, look at other options.

In the UK, a fair dismissal on disciplinary/capability grounds would typically require you to do the above (plus another "performance improvement plan" period), as described by this ACAS code of practice. Make sure the full process is laid out in advance and it's clear that if there is no improvement, dismissal is a likely outcome.

What a lot of companies do is hope the problem will go away without really being up-front about it, setting expectations, etc., then only look up processes to dismiss once they've decided they can't leave it any longer. Not giving people clear feedback is not likely to lead to them improving, and leaves the company running a sham capability process and moaning about red tape, when if they'd begun when they first had concerns the problem would have been resolved one way or the other much more quickly.

Don't delay or avoid the hard conversations, be honest, clear, and listen to the other side. You might be able to help them to shape up and become a really productive member. If not, you'll at least be able to avoid a perpetual "we'll deal with it tomorrow" problem or an unfair dismissal case because the process was bodged from the outset.


"One more thing, I don't want her to be terminated. I just don't want her in my team."

This attitude worries me - it sounds like you just want to pass this problem onto someone else, rather than taking the action which is right for the company. Part of the learning when you step up from being an individual contributor to a leader, whether that be on the management side or the technical side, is to start looking at the bigger picture.

Imagine this situation from the point of view of anther team in your company: what possible advantage to them is there to them in taking this person onto their team? If the answer is "nothing", bite the bullet and recommend to your management that the person is dismissed.

  • Thanks for the suggestion. Actually I am from developer became manager group and learning, so I did not wanted to go into politics. But this answer taught me how to learn and grow and learn.
    – Developer
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 19:23

To be fair to everyone, you should tell her that you asked your boss to remove you from the team, and that he said to wait for 2-3 months. Then you ask her whether she would prefer to leave or to stay. And if she would prefer to stay, then you can discuss what changes would have to happen to make that possible.

First you should ask her quite plainly how competent she thinks she is. Many people who are incompetent can't see this. Competent people realise when they make mistakes, incompetent people don't. If that is the problem, then everything else follows from that. If she is convinced to be the best programmer in the world, then obviously anyone trying to correct her will get attitude and argumentative behaviour (as you would get it from someone who is truly competent).

The other possibility is that she is in over her head and knows she is no good, and attitude and argumentative behaviour are her way to cover this up. In that case she needs to learn that this does her no good. In a larger team there are always tasks that can be done by a weaker team member, especially if that team member is willing to go to others for help when needed. Quite often getting five minutes of advice then let you do a day of useful work.

So there is a chance of turning this around for everyone.

  • Another possibility is she just looks at things differently than the rest of the organization. This difference may be worse, may be better, or may simply be different. And communication issues on one or both sides could lead to the divisiveness. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 0:13

What's the issue? Maybe she is somebody's cousin. Who knows? It doesn't really matter.

Just do not invite the problem to meetings and give it simple tasks. Basically pretend like the problem is not there.

If your boss wants to keep paying her, that's his problem, not yours.

  • 6
    Calling another team member "it" is not going to help the OP treat her in a way that is productive for anyone concerned. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 0:14
  • At the same time, "it"'s existence and inclusion in the organization isn't productive for anyone concerned either other than it receiving it's paycheck. I've been on teams like this and I had to leave the organization to get away from the problem. Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 22:11

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