Firing People May Not Be the Right Answer!


We have all worked with people we dislike, or, even, hate. There are many reasons. It could be they don’t follow-up or follow-through. They make projects harder than they need to be. Or, they may be having too many personal challenges.

But firing them is rarely the best answer!

Why? It could be due to legal considerations. They may have expert product knowledge and/or work well with clients. And, in today’s business environment, it can be difficult to replace them.

So, you hang on and hope for a miracle. Or, you seethe, blaming them for any or all of your challenges.

George was having trouble working with Kelly, a good employee who was no longer doing the job she was hired to do. Rather than involving the correct team member, Kelly, like many employees, had taken on tasks that were not in her job description and skill set. Unfortunately, because of this, she was failing!

Understandably, George was upset with Kelly’s performance. However, he wasn’t clear on whether to fire Kelly or find another solution. While her job fit assessment showed a good job fit with the original job responsibilities, it also showed “why” Kelly was currently failing.

My advice was, “You can fire her, or, make her successful.” George decided to make Kelly successful. The key was to have consistent and straight conversations about her job responsibilities, and, address “why” the team was not working together.

It wasn’t easy for either George, Kelly, or the team! But, the time and effort paid off. Kelly is now a successful employee again!

If You Can’t Fire Them, Help Them Succeed!

Clarify “why” the person is failing. Make sure you use a qualified job fit assessment when coaching, managing, and training to determine a person’s true behaviors, thinking style and interests. Also, you can use the same tools in the future when hiring.

Be clear about your needs and expectations. Then, be consistent in your communication. Take the time to clarify what you need now and in the near future from each position. Be able to answer who, what, where, when and why questions. Also, follow a 180-day Success Plan to ensure a person’s success.

Training and coaching will make a difference. Bill Gates said that “everyone needs a coach” and that includes you! Look at how you can have all your employees trained and coached to develop their “soft skills.”

Address ethical issues immediately. Sometimes, people simply don’t know that they don’t know. Or, they are aware but think their actions don’t matter. Educate them now. Review policies with them. Then, coach them on how to better handle sticky situations.

You’re not a counselor, you’re a coach. If an employee is having personal difficulties, send them to HR or to your employee wellness provider. Remember, unless you are a health care provider, you do not have the skills to suggest medical help to anyone!

Be a leader FIRST. Many times, leaders make friends with their employees. This can make performance challenges more difficult to manage. Be clear when working with “friends” that you are their boss during business conversations and when addressing performance issues.

Temper your temper. The issue may be you! Consider it may be time for you to take a sabbatical or leave of absence. If you’ve experienced a difficult situation and haven’t taken time to grieve or process a loss, it can come back to haunt you at an inappropriate time. Be kind to yourself. When you return, you will have a new perspective and the same situations and people will look different.

Develop your emotional intelligence (EI). Yes, developing your EI can help you excel, especially when working with difficult team members! Most issues can be resolved through effective communication. But, you need to develop the ability and patience for these conversations to be effective. Learn how by attending workshops and hiring an executive coach.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2020

Jeannette Seibly is an award-winning dynamic results coach and keynote speaker. For the past 27 years, she has guided the creation of leaders to excel in achieving results. Are you ready for an unprecedented 2020? Contact Jeannette today for straight talk with dynamic results. Don’t forget to listen to NEW podcasts on Anchor.FM or

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