Leadership Teamwork

Some People Need to Be Fired

When you and everyone else knows someone needs to be shown the door, it’s time to step up and take the necessary action.

Here’s a teamwork problem that, based on the stories I’ve heard over the years, is far too common. One team member is standing in the way of the team’s success, and nobody is willing to do what needs to be done.

Someone who shouldn’t be on your team

This person is coming up short in one or more ways that are creating big problems for the group. This team member…

  • Doesn’t support the goals.
  • Doesn’t get along with their coworkers.
  • Doesn’t complete assigned tasks.
  • Doesn’t measure up in terms of skills and abilities.
  • Creates a toxic atmosphere.

Try other options first

While I’m a big fan of coaching, system’s thinking, mediation, performance management, and a whole slew of interventions you can use to help someone become a more effective team member; there comes a time when a leader has to seriously consider the option of moving the person off the team.

Not many managers are willing to take this step. The usual excuses are that it’s just too hard to fire someone. Too much paperwork, too many legal challenges, and too many hassles.

I don’t doubt that these expectations about the difficulty of firing an employee are true. And I’m certainly not advocating firing people on a whim without first making a reasonable effort to help the person change. But what happens when you know this is the only way things will get better? What will make you take the necessary action?

How to move past your hesitation

Whenever I find myself procrastinating a scary action, I notice I spend a lot of time dwelling on the potential problems that I’m going to face if I take the action. What I’ve learned to do, is think about the potential problems I will face if I do nothing.

In this situation, the costs are usually identified by considering the effect this person’s behavior has on the rest of the team. When you make that list you might discover your inaction contributes to:

  • Low morale
  • Low productivity
  • Turnover of the people you don’t want to leave
  • Poor customer service
  • Lawsuits

Do the analysis. Make your decision.

It’s time

If your gut tells you someone needs to go, and you’ve done everything you can reasonably have done to help the person succeed but have not seen the necessary improvement; then it’s time to make the change.

Your team members want you to, and it’s your responsibility. Do the right thing. Do it now.

Remember, you should give this person a fair chance. Coaching might work, and when comes from an outsider, the person usually takes it more seriously.

We can be that coach for your employee. Call us to learn more.

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce is a speaker, consultant, writer, facilitator and coach. Since 1996 he's helped workplace teams improve performance.