Fire them with enthusiasm
During a casual lunch with my friend, Bill Conerly, I said something in confidence about two of my current clients who are way past due in discharging one of their key employees. The headache, heartache and angst, the lost opportunity and lost respect of their team that results from failing to hold poor performers accountable, is not fully understood. These less-than acceptable employees are a huge drain on their enterprise. I told Bill, ďIím starting to feel like Ryan Bingham, the character played by George Clooney in the movie ĎIn the Air.íĒ Bill said, ďNo one ever fires failed employees fast enough.Ē
Maybe this movie, which in many ways is a huge spoof, should be required viewing for managers. The main plot revolves around how difficult it is for companies to discharge employees, and how coldhearted and mechanical Ryan Bingham is about discharging people regardless of their tenure, station or status. Perhaps discharging employees is so difficult for most that the plot of the story was easy to relate to, and why the film was successful, and the situation served as an adequate theme for the drama. I would like to hope that firing employees will never be easy for any of us. After all, being fired is one of the most stressful things anyone can ever experience. You are not only separating an employee from their livelihood, from the way they make money, and earn a living, but also from the way they gain a sense of personhood, a sense of value for their person.
People donít do their job satisfactorily for one or more of three reasons; 1. They donít know what their job is Ė an inadequate, incomplete job description; 2. They donít want to do their job Ė poor attitude, lack of interest and motivation; or 3. They canít do their job. If they canít, it means that management failed in the hiring or training
process. If they donít want to do their job, it could also mean that they were a poor hire or that you have not found a way to provide a motivational environment. If they donít know how to do their job, it means that they need job training. If they donít know what their job is, it means that you need to do a far better job of defining their role and the roles of others.
If they know what their job is and they still donít perform, if they are trained to do their job and still donít perform, you must do your job, which is to separate them from the team.
We have a saying at Turbo Ė If you have a person who isnít fired with enthusiasm and you canít fire them with enthusiasm, then fire them with enthusiasm.
You will be doing yourself, the rest of your team, and the employee you are discharging a favor. You will gain the one thing managers need most; the respect of your peers, your reports, and even the person you are discharging. You will earn personal peace of mind.
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