Firing employees is unpleasant for a variety of reasons. Conversations can be difficult, circumstances can be sensitive, and relationships can be strong. For these reasons and many more, business owners, managers, and leaders will often avoid taking on this difficult task.
Instead, they allow certain employees to stick around much longer than they should. Even when it is obvious that it’s no longer a workable situation or a good fit.
In many cases, this is simply a matter of weak leadership, someone in charge who can’t or won’t own up to one of the toughest parts of the job.
But sometimes it’s more than business. Sometimes it’s personal.
Breaking the connection
The best teams are those who have built strong connections. They’ve worked together. They’ve played together. They’ve established relationships inside and maybe even outside of work.
Sometimes, we can become so connected to our employees that we develop a significant sense of obligation. Not only do we know them as people, we also like them as people. We don’t want to cause them pain or make them sad, so we keep them on staff despite their poor performance, or the fact that their job is obsolete or unsustainable.
We fail to take action. We look the other way. We sigh and hope for the best. While this kind of empathy may be admirable to a point, it's not necessarily what’s best for the employee, the manager, or the business.
Making the hard decisions
As a company leader, your first obligation has to be keeping the organization healthy. If you aren’t taking care of your business, it will only be a matter of time before you are unable to take care of the people who work there. And that's not good for anyone.
You have responsibilities to every individual on the team, and those responsibilities include:
- Communicating the expectations you have for each individual to contribute
- Providing training, coaching and resources to allow them to contribute successfully
- Evaluating employees and giving constructive feedback on their work and effort
- Holding people accountable for their performance and behaviors
- Letting people go when necessary
Sometimes you need to let people go due to a lack of resources, and sometimes you have to let them go due to a lack of effort, performance, motivation, or professionalism.
Putting it off isn’t the answer
When you have an individual who isn't willing or able to contribute to the highest company standard, you have a responsibility to either find that person another position within the organization or terminate their employment.
Not firing an employee might seem like the easy way out at first. But when you wait too long to make the break, you allow poor employee performance to slow you down and resources to continue to dwindle. You will also damage your own credibility with those whom you are charged to lead.
It should always be difficult to fire someone.
If it isn’t, you waited too long.
The other employees should always be a little surprised when someone is let go.
If they aren’t, you waited too long.
You should never be in position to badmouth an employee who has left.
If you are, you waited too long.
Make no mistake, your employees are watching and waiting for you to do your job the way it’s supposed to be done.
Don’t let them down. And, more importantly, don’t let yourself down.
Is your broker truly excited about organizational problem solving and helping you design an employee benefits strategy that helps you recruit top talent and makes your job easier? If not, give us a call. We live for this stuff!
Photo by Andriy Popov