I worked with one executive who often called others an “empty suit.” Another executive had two categories for people – “worthless” and “soon to be deemed worthless.” And, yes, these two individuals were at the same company which didn’t make for the most positive environment, but that’s a story for another day.
I’ve met my share of people who didn’t seem exceptionally well qualified for their position. Some have been temporarily in over their head and it was just a matter of time before they got their feet under them. Others were just struggling for one reason or another and were eventually replaced.
If you are managing that individual it’s important to figure out what’s going on and correct the situation. Otherwise, judging someone “worthless” or an “empty suit” isn’t very productive.
It never pays to turn your back on anybody. Somebody saw the value in that individual and their ability to contribute to the organization. It can pay to look for the positive contributions in everyone. I’ve met a lot of people that I will never call “friends” but I have never met an empty suit. You can learn something from anybody!
At the very least, looking for the positive contribution will make it easier to work with that individual. You probably don’t have any control over whether the person keeps their job. And, even if you do have some sway, do you have the right to use it if you don’t have perfect clarity on their expected contribution?
I know there are going to be some of you out there who are asking, “But, what if you are dependent on that person to do their job?”
I agree that this can make it more difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt. But, I strongly encourage you to do so. The last person that you want to dismiss is the one that you are counting on. It will take a higher degree of emotional intelligence than other situations but it’s a chance to succeed where others will fail.