Fire Those Who Don’t Live Up to Expectations

In the last posting I discussed how hiring the wrong person is one of the greatest unforced errors a manager could make. Close behind that one is keeping the wrong person even though you know he is all wrong for your unit and/or company.

How do you know when someone doesn’t belong?

He may not live up to the rules of the organization, especially the unwritten ones. Or he or she may simply fight against every key management initiative. Or an employee may simply be over his or her head in their current position. In these unsettled times, with unemployment at about ten percent, there is no reason to keep someone who does not perform with distinction. In most industries, there are others on the bench and unemployment lines just waiting for a chance to show you what they can do. But that’s besides the point.


Jack Welch was roundly criticized because he eliminated the bottom ten percent of the GE workforce every year. Early on he was called Neutron Jack (for eliminating people but keeping the buildings standing) and far worse by those who felt the full impact of this particular leadership tenet. But, as Welch pointed out, the New York Yankees fire the weakest players every year, so why shouldn’t his company? After all, both want to win and ridding the organization of non-performers increases one’s chances of winning. My new book, published today, The Unforced Error, increases chances that you will be retained and promoted rather than fired or left to twist in the wind.

The key is to make sure that when you discover someone who does not fit your company, move quickly. One of the greatest confessions made of big time CEOs is that when it comes to important matters, they never moved quickly enough. There is a lesson there for all of us, particularly those procrastinators who can’t ever reach inside themselves and make the really tough decisions that need to be made.


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