One of the hardest things to do as a leader is to know when to pull the trigger on firing someone. I’ve heard so many leaders talk about how much trouble they have with making the decision to fire even when the person is under performing or worse a general nuisance. Yet, these same leaders will tell you a story about how relieved their were and how much their lives improved after they finally found the guts to pull the trigger and make the fire.
So, why is it that we have such a tough time? In my experience, it’s because we focus too much on the wrong side of the hiring equation. Assuming you are a good manager and leader, you’ve given this person every opportunity to right the ship. Even so, we still think about the effects the firing will have on the person that needs to be fired and you convince yourself that you should give the person one more chance or “just a little more time” to turn it around. That sounds very caring and humane. But it’s not. Here’s the problem.
While you are avoiding making the decision to fire this person, your team and your credibility as a leader are suffering, sometimes very painfully. Here’s what’s happening while you struggle over pulling the trigger:
- The other members of the team who work with (or worse for) the person in need of a good firing are having to deal with extra work, extra drama, and a lot of unnecessary headaches. They are struggling.
- These team members get progressively more frustrated that this situation isn’t being addressed and they start commiserating with each other.
- If this is allowed to go on for too long, you team starts to question your leadership and whether or not you really care about them and if you are really committed to performance (as you probably have said you are). They have to assume you either aren’t smart enough to see what’s happening, you don’t have the guts to deal with it, or you just don’t care.
- Your customers are experiencing sub-par service and might be thinking about shopping around. This leads to further questions about your leadership and puts your organization at risk.