Quick To Fire

December 10th, 2009 by admin

What happens when you are certain that someone is the right hire, but thirty days later, it just isn’t working out? Don’t let that month stretch into months—or years. If the new hire is not fitting into your culture and doesn’t opt out voluntarily, something needs to be done.

A cultural misfit might be someone who gossips, makes other employees feel uncomfortable, acts or peaks inappropriately, or unsuitably represents the company. Maybe the new hire has proven he or she cannot be trusted. Maybe you just aren’t getting the level of contribution that you were hoping for. Maybe they really aren’t up to the task at hand. The list can go on and on.

What now? Act quickly. You know, they know, and everyone else in the organization knows that the fit is not right—for anyone. Don’t beat around the bush. Go through the necessary steps (whatever you deem them to be), but go through them as quickly as possible. If you wait too long, the bad egg will begin to really smell, negatively affecting the rest of your team as well. Why does it affect the rest of the team?

Everybody knows who does and does not carry their weight. The team all knows who fits in and who does not. If they see someone acting contrary to the goals of your company, they will either begin to feel alienated or they will take that person’s actions an excuse to offer less than their best. Which of these options would you prefer? I’ll take neither. Set the right tone. Do the hard thing with kindness, respect, and courtesy, but do it. Between the two of us, Ron and I have hired hundreds of individuals. Some have worked and some haven’t, but ultimately, rotten apples seldom turn delicious.

Just remember before you fire that certain States are “Right to Work” States. The labor laws in some are tougher than others. It is important to understand the laws of the State where you are doing business—yet another reason you need that savvy attorney as the second most important person in your life.

Also, take caution not to let the rumors fly. It is especially important in a burgeoning company to gather the troops around and communicate any changes that are occurring. The following style of speech has worked well for me:

“Today we made a difficult change in the organization. We had to let John go. We appreciated John’s contribution; however, our needs were no longer compatible. We wish him well. These situations are always difficult, but are necessary at times. This was one of those times. If any of you have any specific questions or concerns, feel free to come and talk with me privately.”

But don’t just leave it at that. Turn the direction of the conversation to your next goal and what you are attempting to accomplish. Leave your team with a positive feeling about their contribution and what you hope to do together. This meeting should last twenty minutes or less. Remember, ninety-five percent of the time, everyone else knows what is going on before you do. They might even be glad to see John go, but don’t let those feelings fester. Turn your team back to your goals and start things rolling ahead again.

Now, lest I be misunderstood, let me add a few words about diversity. I not only appreciate but actually seek out diversity. Conflict can be creative. I have no need or desire for a “yesman” organization. I detest the “good ol’ boy” clubs I saw time and time again in the corporate world, teams staffed and managed by less competent individuals who happened to get along with the right people and offered no diverse opinion, input, skills, or attributes. I detest politically-correct employees who take measured steps to posture themselves and look good around the right people but offer no diverse thinking. Look for diversity, but apply the same principles outlined above.

Porter’s Points – Quick to Fire

  • Trust your intuition as concerns come up. Be ever vigilant of the workplace atmosphere; if things head south, get to the bottom of the problem and fire if you have to.
  • Be courteous but act quickly. It’s best to know things like labor laws and company expectations up front so that you can move swiftly through the firing process without causing too much damage.
  • As soon as you release someone from the company, pull the team together and publicly announce it. This isn’t time to paint a bullseye on the ex-employee; it’s the time to be positive and focus on your company goals to get productivity back on track.

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