I'm a strong believer that leaders need to deal with low performers quickly, but this needs to be done fairly.

Too often I see people who are too quick to fire.

Just recently I was approached about coaching a senior executive, and one of the things he wanted help with was to replace half of his team who were under performing.

When I asked him how long he had been in charge of the team, he said 18 months, and when I asked what the were underlying reasons for failure, he said he didn't know, which was why he needed to replace them.

I didn't take that assignment because it was clear that that leader didn't see that he had any role in his team's poor performance, and any changes in personnel were not going to fix the real underlying issues.

Whenever I have looked into why people are failing to hit the required standard, it is usually because of one of following reasons

  • Lack of capability
  • Lack of clarity and understanding of the role
  • Lack of resources needed to be successful
  • Lack of support
  • Lack of sufficient time needed due work overload
  • Lack of interest in doing a good job

The majority of which are the responsibility of the leader. We need to make sure that we put the right people into the right roles, and if we place someone without the right capabilities to do the job. Then that is just as much our fault as it is theirs.

As leaders, we need to put people into positions where they can be successful, making sure that they have the right tools, the right skills the right level of understanding, and enough time to do the job.

In addition, your teams should feel comfortable about approaching you and asking for support if things are not going as planned.

In the vast majority of cases when you set your teams up for success, they will work hard to achieve it. No one comes to work wanting to do a bad job or to fail.

Yes, there are some, but in my experience, they are the exception, not the norm.

If you just look to replace people without understanding what was causing them to fail, you are not changing the situation, you are just changing the people, and the under lying issues - your poor leadership - remains.

So before you look to fire your teams, make sure that you have set them up for success, or it could be you that will be the next to be fired.