Not all parts of management are fun

On her Hiring Technical People blog, Johanna Rothman writes about firing people who don’t work.

This matches my experience. Holding on to employees who aren’t pulling their weight drags down morale for the entire team.

Firing someone isn’t easy, and it’s certainly not fun. Sometimes it is the best thing to do for everyone concerned.

Managers, especially new managers, are hesitant to fire employees because:

1) They worry they haven’t done enough to coach the employee to acceptable performance.

2) They make excuses for the behavior… as in “Oh, that’s just the way Sam is. He’s a good worker, but forgetful.” after Sam forgets to pack the slides for an important client presentation. Or “Jennifer losing her temper because she’s going through a divorce.” Two years later, Jennifer still losing her temper and wreaking havoc.

3) They don’t want to be “mean.” I talked to a manager, Dan, who had to make a decision to retain or fire an employee at the end of his 6-month probationary period.

It was the week before Christmas. Even though the employees results were marginal and his interpersonal skills were non-existent, Dan couldn’t bring himself to fire the guy right before Christmas.

Two years later, the employee is still there. Dan kicks himself for not releasing the employee at the end of his probation.

4) They don’t want to “ruin someone’s career/life. What if he can’t find another job? What will she do if she doesn’t have a pay check?” Being fired is a difficult experience. But it’s not the end of the world. It’s not a managers job to protect employees from the consequences of their own choices.

I absolutely don’t believe in firing people cavalierly.

Making the decision to terminate employment is part of a managers job. Not a fun part, not one you’ll ever enjoy (I hope) but a necessary part.

A manager’s job is to field the best team he can and accomplish the organizations goals. And sometimes that means firing an employee who isn’t doing the work or negatively effecting the work environment.