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Compliments of Keoni Cabral via Flickr

Compliments of Keoni Cabral via Flickr

One of the most difficult tasks a manager faces is firing his or her employees. The guilt bosses experience in depriving people a living provides disincentive. In some cases, individuals who are not pulling their weight are simply carried – resulting in team difficulties, undue distress trying to incorporate the recalcitrant member, and often non-optimal output.

Charles B. Buntin II, MAJ, EN, Assistant Professor of Military Science at MTSU, has some choice words regarding the importance of letting people go:

  • Decide if the personality is just an annoyance to you, or if the person is detrimental to the success of the team.
  • Secondly, do not be afraid to confront the person on the personality issue that is causing controversy amongst the team.
  • Thirdly, you have to be willing to state the issue and have a solution that is achievable for that individual.
  • Lastly, you have to be willing to get rid of the person if they are not able or not willing to conform to an attitude that supports the team, or end goal of the team.

Managing is about making tough choices – not about being charitable, or floating people work related credit. The damaging impact of dealing with prodigal employees is a siphoning of energy that could be put to better use – e.g., in organizing projects, streamlining throughout, improving end product, or simply by spending relational capital on the people performing up to par (instead of your problem children). Firing may be a particularly difficult task for specific personality types, such as High Sensitive Persons, who are prone to over-empathize and identify with others’ suffering. Distancing oneself through objective thinking is then priority #1 when contemplating termination. This can be accomplished in the following ways:

#1: Provide employees with multiple opportunities, at the same time offering your support and stating consequences for non-compliance. It’s more difficult for workers to argue with an unwanted result if they were informed at regular milestones, and if the manager did everything in his/her power to help them succeed.

#2: Conduct MBO meetings. MBO, or Management by Objectives, facilitates the joint formulation of employee agendas. Workers who derive their own outcomes can then have little to say when others point out their finished product is subsequently off the mark.

#3: Give fair warning: progressive discipline – a professional form of progress report – is a way of letting employees know where they stand. Some workers may continue taking advantage unless they’re cold water splashed in the face.


Related posts: 5 signs it’s time to fire your problem employee


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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