out under-performers to build competitive advantage
Despite the pain, dismissing an employee can be one of the most
important tasks of leadership. It can either be an opportunity to
strengthen or build a culture of respect, accountability and trust or it
can foster a culture of fear and secrecy.
Other employees will watch your actions, so you need to be mindful of
not only ‘what you do’ but ‘how you do’ it as well. You are shaping your
organisation's culture whether you take action or ignore the problem.
The real questions are, what do you want your organisation's level of
performance to be? Can you build a competitive advantage with employees
who pull in the opposite direction and continue to bear the cost?
If an employee uses drugs or alcohol while on the job, engages in
illegal activities, blatantly dishonest, disrespectful, steals from the
company, grossly insubordinate, consistently falls below expectations,
doesn’t respond to training and coaching and divulges sensitive
information to competitors - then you have no choice but to make the
In such situations, you must act decisively. Once you decide to lay
off an employee, procrastination will only make a bad situation worse.
You are paid by the company to pay the good employees in return for
the value created by each of them.
You have no right to jeopardise your company's success or your
employees’ success, by retaining an under-performing employee or an
employee who is a barrier to success.
You are accountable for business results and people – so it’s a
delicate issue to deal with – a double-edged sword to play with. In any
business action there can be a margin of error.
However, making a mistake in this activity can carry serious
irreparable damage in terms of organisation reputation and various
liabilities. So leaders need to take precautionary measures. Locally,
the most common mistakes leaders often make when dealing with a
potential dismissal include -
* Waiting until a crisis occurs before taking action. If you can
recognise and address the problem early, before frustration and
resentment sets in, the chances of success are exponentially greater.
Leaders should have the foresight to anticipate and take proactive steps
to avoid business distraction and employee disappointment.
* Making decisions based on emotions rather than facts. Leaders
shouldn’t fire people based on personality clashes or annoying behaviour.
It’s wrong from all angles. It's got to be based on business impact.
When the decision is fact-based, you remove many of the emotional
stresses that arise when sitting down to consider your options. An
employee having to leave the organisation due to no fault of his or hers
is a crime and such an employee can be like a wounded animal not knowing
how to react and the consequences can be severe.
On the other hand, a leader has no right to pay employees on
sympathetic grounds. Doing it the ‘right way’ at the ‘right time’ for
the ‘right reasons’ is the way go. Having to fire employees due to wrong
business strategy or poor decision-making by the leaders should be zero
in the ideal world.