When to sack staff

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Getting rid of staff can be incredibly costly.

Not just in monetary terms, but also in the time and effort it takes to re-hire someone good – and the potential damage to the company’s culture.

With that in mind, here’s a very useful checklist to run through before you decide to pull the trigger and fire an employee.

Is it your fault they are not performing well?
One of the main reasons employees don’t deliver to a boss’s expectations is that the boss never made their expectations clear.

For example, did you tell them what their three most important tasks are when they started their job? And did you keep reminding them of those top three?

Employees aren’t mind readers – if you haven’t been crystal clear about what you value most about their work then you can hardly expect them to deliver on those priorities. Tell them your top three and remind them constantly about them until they sink in.

Are you holding them to a standard of excellence?
I’ve often seen bosses complain that staff member’s aren’t performing well, yet not say anything to them when they fall short. Time and time again I see leaders holding their tongue about poor performance, but then resenting their staff for not delivering. Often, it’s because the boss doesn’t like confrontation.

Well, too bad, you have to be direct and express your thoughts, whether you like it or not. The cold hard truth is that direct, forthright and honest communication is the hallmark of all great leaders, whether they’re running an army or running a ballet school. If you don’t talk straight, then you will engender a company culture of poor communication, half truths and internal politics. As the Italians say, “The fish smells from the head first.”

Have you been continually coaching them?
Your aim should be not to just employ great people, but to make them greater than they have ever been in their lives. Steve Jobs was a master of this. There are so many people in the original Macintosh development team who did their best work while working with him, then in later years achieved comparatively little.

Why? I believe that it was Steve’s continual training and pushing and cajoling and inspiring that took them above their normal standard of work and into the echelons of greatness. As leaders we must all do the same.

Have you warned them three times?
Many poor performing employees actually think that they are doing a fabulous job, because their leader never told them otherwise! Yes they may be deluded and have terrible emotional intelligence, but that in itself shouldn’t be reason for termination. You should only sack someone when you have done the first three points mentioned above and then warned them they are in danger of being let go, several times (and of course accompanied that warning with some clear and positively expressed suggestions for improvement).

Then if they are still not meeting your standards you can terminate them with swiftness and without guilt – you’ve done all you can to help them.

Nobody likes sacking staff, but you will have to do it far less often if you keep these four points in mind.

WORDS Siimon Reynolds

This article was originally written by website The Fortune Institute.


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