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  • Writer's pictureBurk Moreland

How Do You Know When To Fire Someone?

As we continue the series, 7 Easy Ways to Kill Your Business, this week we’ll talk about “talent management” and how disastrous it can be not to do so.  

Nearly every company I invest time with has this problem in common: people in positions they either have outgrown or worse yet, the position has outgrown them. Many times, these people in the wrong positions, are the anchor that keeps the ship from surging forward.They aren’t bad people, they just can’t keep up with the job requirements and produce the quality work needed. And the sad part is, they are most likely miserable trying to keep up. 

So, what do we do? Do you keep trying to pound that square peg into the round hole? At what cost? Or do you let yourself get so fed up that you just fire them and move on? 

It depends. Very few people get up every morning and profess to do a poor job all day. The minority are malicious in their efforts to see what mayhem they can cause on a daily basis. However, most people that are not currently producing quality work, are either under-utilized, over-worked, under-trained or just plain bored. As a business owner and/or person in a leadership role, it is up to you to ensure that this doesn’t happen. 

My discussion with my clients is usually a conversation to see what they have done to ensure the team member has been given every chance to succeed. Being willing to look at yourself as a leader and at how your company sets its people up for success is just as critical as reviewing the person who is under-performing. This includes looking at whether they’ve been provided with enough training. Is more needed? Were they or anyone else in the position ever successful in the role? What is the team member good at? What have the discussions between manager and the team member sounded like? Has there been a missed opportunity to develop this person? 

The answers to these questions and more will usually lead you to a decision point: is it in the company’s best interest to keep this person? Is the person capable or equipped to handle additional training and steps to help get them back on track? And is the company willing to provide those things as a last ditch effort prior to cutting them loose? As a business owner and/or person in a leadership role, you may have already invested huge dollars in this person. The last resort should be letting them go. However, a clear path to success must be laid out so that everyone is clear on what it will take to get back on track, so that in the event success is not achieved, parting becomes a natural and expected, if not mutual, decision. 

One of the hardest parts of being a leader is ensuring that your ENTIRE team is filled with the best you can get. Refuse to settle, continually try to improve, be appreciative, but never be satisfied. High performing teams will model after their leader. What do you expect of yourself? How hard do you push yourself? Do you encourage a winning attitude by modeling one yourself? Take a moment and really ponder whether you are doing your part to be sure the team is clear on directives, has the tools, and knows how you want it done. And, take it a step further and ask your team these questions as well. If the answer isn’t quick and succinct, you better get to work.

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