A conference attendee had a running conversation with a program host. Each time the attendee, a manager, complained about a particularly problematic employee the host encouraged the manager to simply fire the employee.
On the last day of the conference the attendee proudly announced to all of the other attendants that he had terminated the annoying employee over the phone. The host then asked, “Feels better doesn’t it?” The attendee answered, “Yes, but my mother is really mad at me!” As it turns out, the offending employee was his own mother.
The conference host made a valid point: a change needed to be made. The attendee needed to confront a tough situation and possibly the company as a whole needed to upgrade its staff.
Unfortunately, relationships can be a huge barrier when it comes to managing results. Not just relatives but with anyone whom you’ve developed a connection with over the years. In time, people settle into a comfortable “my turf” routine that hinders growth, accomplishment, and profitability. But remember, trying to improve company culture is not always achieved by just terminating an employee unless someone has tried “higher road” concepts in communication. Before you fire someone, make an effort to change their habits and improve their performance. Here are a few points to consider.
Impact Communication: “Hallway management,” what I sometimes also refer to as “Gun Slinger Management,” can be described as crossing paths with employees and quickly pointing out to them some negatives on your mind about their work. This type of management is totally ineffective and never produces results — it builds up negativity and disrespect. If you need to address a problem address it in a way that is going to generate an impact. First and foremost, take the conservation to a private place away from the office; changing the venue highlights the importance of the conversation. It could be lunch offsite or a casual cup of coffee at a coffee house.
Clear Communication: It might sound simple enough but communicating clearly is actually easier said than done. Generally, people practice avoidance, failing to tackle a problem head on via clear, concise communication. This avoidance only exacerbates the problem and never results in a productive solution. Though it may lead to a type of confrontation (known as mayhem), it is better to be upfront and honest about the problem (think Simon Cowell). At least, giving someone the opportunity to change or improve – such as ‘If there is no improvement, SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN’ helps a leader earn the right to terminate.
The Criticism Sandwich: Remember, even when there are problems in a working relationship it is important to remember that employees have value. Sometimes it is easy to forget how much we value employees, clouding our judgment. When criticizing employees try to use the criticism sandwich: compliment – criticism – compliment. By preceding the point of criticism with a compliment and closing with a compliment you show respect for the individual, appreciation for their positive contributions, and a sincere desire to improve the relationship.
Leadership Self Development: Personal development is crucial. It keeps relationships fresh and it helps you to earn the continual respect of those you work with. Currently, there is an incredible amount of access to information pertaining to self-development, from blogs to books to programs and seminars.
If you’ve tried the above strategies with no evidence of improvement, then terminate. But it is always a good idea to make a genuine effort — you will be much happier in the long run.