Are You Keeping A ‘Has Been’ In The Workplace?

A dirty man

Are You Keeping A ‘Has Been’ In The Workplace?


Loyalty in business is one of the fundamental values I live by. I believe loyalty is key to lasting friendships, relationships, and businesses, particularly during tough times; however, when loyalty affects your ability to be successful, something needs to change.

In recent times, I’ve worked with business owners who’ve been keeping certain team members despite their lack of enthusiasm, failure to be a part of the organisation’s broader goals or a cohesive member of the team. The more troubling issue is that they are keeping team members, despite consistent poor performance, without any real cause for this poor performance*.

These team members have come under the spotlight as we look to implement ensuring cultures, develop new systems, and set up new accountabilities. These changes have increased the awareness of the impact these ‘has been’ team members have on the greater business environment.


What is a ‘has been’?

According to Karen Schmidt, a ‘has been’ is someone who:

•       Does the bare minimum;

•       Actively sabotages change programs;

•       Constantly complains about trivial matters; and

•       Creates a negative atmosphere in the work team.

These people can bring down your star performers and undermine your authority in the workplace. Not great for a SME business owner, that’s for sure!


How did we get here and how do we change?

‘Has beens’ have often been in the business for a long period of time. They know the ropes and do enough to get by, but they become resentful of the organisation because they’ve been allowed to get away with poor performance or behaviour. They lose enthusiasm and start living with the ‘run of the mill’ philosophy.

Whose fault is this? Ultimately, as the business owner, you know it’s your fault… (#sorrynotsorry). Defining your business ‘rules of play’ and sticking to the consequences of not playing by those rules is fundamental for ensuring long-lasting success.

Often ‘has beens’ lack the challenge needed to stay motivated. In a small to medium business, often with flat structures there can be limited opportunity to rise within the ranks. It’s unfortunate, but I often hear business owners making excuses: ‘they’ve been here so long, and they do some of their job well… It’s not worth trying to find someone new’.

I appreciate this position; however, what impact does this attitude have on your business and the rest of your team? Are you setting the ‘rules of play’ so low the rest of the team can now become similarly complacent?

Sometimes… well actually most times, it’s the business owner that needs the fair kick up the butt to ensure it’s not their own personality and leadership that’s the cause of the problems. A business coach or mentor can help in you understand how things became the way they are, as well as to develop a plan to move forward and help to execute it.

* Disclaimer: There can be many reasons a team member is not performing, including due to extenuating circumstances, for example such as health, mental health, or the care of loved ones. Those workplaces that support people who are doing their best despite the challenges outside of the workplace are gold workplaces and this behaviour should be encouraged. My reference to poor performance relates to someone who has stopped caring and the organisation accepts and allows poor performance because it’s “too hard” to change things.


What to do next:

I live and breathe helping business owners get the clarity needed to continue going forward, and this is without a doubt my deep passion and purpose; I absolutely love what I do. If you want to have a chat about how I help you achieve your goal, get in touch.

Read this next: Marketing on Emotion – Red Brain/Green Brain


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