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My worst employee ever: Competent and smart, but bad at the job

Mar 23, 2022

It was the late 1980s. Andrea Brice was 28 and a first-time manager while completing her engineering degree. When I asked her recently about the worst employee she’d ever had — or at least one who had posed a significant management challenge — she remembered a data-entry clerk immediately.

“Perfectly nice young woman who was competent, smart, but not good at her job,” said Brice, now the founder and chief data officer of the data intelligence startup Willowfinch. “[Sometimes] you know somebody is not good, and they’re never going to get good no matter how much training you can give them, because it just doesn’t resonate.”