The hardest thing most managers will ever do is fire an employee. In almost every instance, we are telling a decent person that they no longer have a job. Sure, there is the occasion where someone deserves to lose a job because they have done something ethically wrong. However, many times it is simply a poor fit with the role or the culture. When this happens, we have to terminate a good person doing a bad job. For a practice to grow, we need great talent and sometimes that means making changes to our team. Here are some things to consider as you face the prospect of making changes on your team.
Did you coach well first?
Everyone has the potential to be successful and a coach’s job is to help people reach that potential. Sometimes we think the solution is to get rid of under-performers and hire a bunch of superstars. But the likelihood of replacing a poor team and then all of a sudden having a good team is pretty slim. Coaching matters and it’s our job as managers to help people grow, develop, and perform. If we aren’t doing that well for this team, we won’t do it well for the next one either. Pretty soon we will be facing the same situation with our new team. If you need to make a change, make it. But understand, if you don’t improve your ability to coach, you will never have the team you want.
It’s not fair to keep a poor performer.
If you’ve done a good job as a coach and you still have people who are under-performing, then it’s time to help them find a place where they can be more successful. Sometimes that place is with another practice. If you allow them to stay and be mediocre, you are sending a strong message that being mediocre is acceptable. Your stars will soon realize they are carrying the entire load and may choose to go somewhere else. People who aren’t successful deserve to find a place where they can be. And the people who are successful deserve to be surrounded by others who are working just as hard.
People you fire will thank you if you were honest and worked hard to help them succeed first.
If you make a strong effort to coach and support your people, but it doesn’t work, then most people understand and respect that. They know when they are not bringing their best efforts. They also know when you have dedicated your time and effort to helping them become better. Even though they are losing a job, it may be the catalyst that helps them approach their next one differently. Make sure to be clear about the reasons why they were fired. This way, they can understand the changes they need to make to be successful in their next role. Great coaches even get thanked by the people who they have fired for helping them ultimately find where they fit.
Firing people is hard. But it’s the right thing to do for the team and for the people who need to go find a place where they can succeed. If you make talent changes the right way, it creates a culture of success. Your all-stars will thrive, while the people who are no longer with you will get a fresh start. If you are going to be a leader, letting people go is part of that. However, how you do it sends a strong message about the kind of leader you have become.