6 Reasons Why Leaders Don’t Fire Employees, but Should

May 15, 2012

What is holding you back?

6 Reasons Why Leaders Don’t Fire Employees, but Should

No. 1 – You see yourself as nice.

When someone is not performing, it is either because they are not motivated to perform or they do not have the requisite skills. If you’ve tried a variety of motivational strategies and have offered skills training, and yet you still haven’t seen significant progress, you and the employee are better off parting ways. Firing may not seem “nice” in the short term, but it’s actually the kindest thing you can do for struggling employees in the long term; the sooner they’re fired, the sooner they can move on to jobs where they have a better chance to succeed. Don’t let your self-image get in the way of doing what’s right.

No. 2 – You will have to do their job while you find a replacement.

Sometimes a replacement can’t be found within the organization. Sometimes the only one suitable for doing the job is you, the leader. The search for a replacement may take a while, which makes it even harder for you to swallow the idea of doing your job and another one. Delaying firing is understandable, but not prudent. Leaving a poorly performing employee in place not only delays the problem, it can amplify it. There is no telling how much of a drain this employee will place on morale and how much your leadership will be questioned–due to your tolerance of bad behavior or poor results.

No. 3 – You feel like you have not given the employee enough time.

You wake up every day competing with another company or someone wanting to get your job. Customers don’t want excuses; they want the best service available ASAP. Time isn’t a luxury you can afford. If the deadline for improved performance has passed for this employee, start looking for a replacement. Don’t keep restarting the clock.

No. 4 – They have been with the company for so long.

Loyalty is important to an organization’s stability and sustainability. All the accumulated knowledge and wisdom held in your employees’ minds helps you avoid past mistakes, maintain group identity, and support each other through ups and downs. Loyalty, though, is a two-way street. Is it loyal for an employee to decrease output, engagement, alignment, and accountability, or fail to develop new skills? Both parties need to have each others’ backs. Prolonged let-ups and let-downs are signs that the relationship has run its course.

No. 5 – You make the employee more important than your vision and mission.

As a leader, you are required to put the organization’s vision and mission ahead of any single employee, including yourself, while being true to your values and the organization’s. Don’t let one employee deter or prevent the organization from fulfilling its vision and mission.

No. 6 – You think the remaining team members will dislike you.

Leaders often worry about the effect firing one employee will have on the rest of the team. They worry about being disliked. They worry about employees being angry or dispirited to the point where it decreases performance. They might worry about key members protesting or leaving. Usually, though, if the fired employee was dragging the team down (and creating additional work for other team members), the team may miss the individual, but they will celebrate your decision. You will likely see the level of productivity go up,  not down, when everyone is pulling their own weight.

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