Anytime someone gets fired, everyone loses. Of course, the person getting fired feels the worst of all. But let's not overlook that good leaders hate to let people go. I have had to terminate multiple people over my career and every single time I couldn't sleep the night before and I felt horrible afterward. Anytime someone is fired, it's a terrible day for everyone.
But what I want to challenge you on is the fact that for some employees, firing them might be the best gift you could give them. Let me explain.
Your job as a leader is to communicate with underperforming employees about where they have missed the mark and what they need to get back on course. You also need to give them the tools and the opportunities to perform to the best of their abilities as well as the ability to grab new opportunities and promotions when they are deserved.
If you have done all of that and the employees continues to under perform, then you have an issue. Maybe the person just doesn't get what the job function entails. Or maybe the job is all wrong for what they are best at or where their skills best belong. It wouldn't make much sense, for example, if a person who excelled at accounting were being forced to land new accounts for the firm. It's hard to imagine that person would be happy in their role. They simply wouldn't have the will to do a great job.
But even after you have corrected for such mismatches and the employee continues to be unsuccessful, it's time to let them go - and, at the risk of sounding harsh it's, the best gift you could ever give them.
That's because I truly believe there is a great organizational fit for everyone on this planet where they will thrive. In this case, it's just not your organization. That means you are doing this person a service by letting them go find the place where they are a fit.
The truth is that the employee isn't happy in their role anyway, but they are reluctant to admit it and make the move to leave in their own. That's means they are wasting their precious time working for you! They'll never get a promotion, or a big raise or opportunities others might get. In other words, you are stealing their life if you don't do the right thing and let them go.
And you can do this in a very gentle and humane way by building in appropriate severance pay or even by helping open doors to other organizations where you think this person could be a good fit.
Now that's not going to make firing people any more fun to do. But it can change the mood - or your sense of guilt - if the goal is to actually help this person find the kind of job and organization where they will truly become engaged and successful over the long haul. So when it comes to looking at your underperforming employees, set them free!
Jim is the author of the best-selling book, "Great CEOs Are Lazy" - grab your copy to today on Amazon!