Welcome to the "Just Say It" blog series! This
series is designed to provide real-world situations we all face as leaders, and
how I believe you should deal with it.
Read my first article: Just Say It: Performance Conversations with Defensive Employees
And my second: Just Say It #2: The Problem with Employee Self-Appraisals
If you're in HR or talent acquisition, you've spent a lot of time thinking about how hard and how long it takes to get someone hired. In fact, you've probably gone through endless process optimization exercises trying to improve and shorten the time it takes to bring on great talent.
Our goal is to hire the best candidate for a role and keep them with our organization for life. I know none of us live in that type of perfect world, but it's the goal. Hire great talent. Let them do great work. Treat them well. Throw them a great party when they eventually retire.
In a nutshell, that would be the ideal human resource management process.
It sounds silly to say out loud, but you never hire anyone thinking that you're just going to fire them.
We don't hire to fire; we hire believing the candidate will perform. With that performance comes the chance to grow within the organization, often with the help of learning and development opportunities and succession plans.
All of this, though, must first be predicated on this one simple little premise: "We don't hire to fire!"
But what happens if an employee isn’t performing?
This is where all of the real world stuff comes in for you as a manager of people. You hire a candidate you believe is the best fit and will perform, but they don’t live up to your expectations or their potential. So, now you have really two options:
- Fire them
- Help them
The first option isn't just as simple as it may seem. We all know we'll go through a process of discipline, write ups, warnings, etc. This process can take weeks, months and even years in some organizations. It's painful. It's unproductive. In the end, we are back to where we started: Needing talent. Don’t get me wrong, in some cases, yes – it might be time to let someone go. It happens. But, it’s not something that should happen too often. Think about the message this sends to other employees about your company culture.
Option number two is much more difficult to pull off, but so much more satisfying and productive. Helping employees who are struggling in their roles means training them and developing their skills. It's really the only job you have as a manager: To help your people improve. Think about the message this sends to other employees about your company culture.
We constantly ask employees for more – more work, more time, more thought about their performance or where they want to go in their career. At the very least, we should be able to help them out if/when they need it.
They didn't tell you that when they gave you the keys to the corner office, did they! You may believe your job is to direct how your department functions, but it's not. Your job is to help those who are in your team achieve their potential, so your department functions as effectively as possible.
Don’t fire: Manage and inspire employees
I had a CEO come up to me once
and say, "Tim, if you
truly thought you were going to fire each person you ever hired, your job would
be miserable! You would just walk around all day not knowing who was
next!" Instead, she challenged me with the concept of "What if I
never allowed you to fire anyone?"
So now I’m asking you: What if you could only keep the talent you had and make them better?
As a leader of people, how would that change how you work with each individual person on your team today?
This isn’t a hypothetical question: This is actually our reality. None of our organizations hire to fire. We hire believing these people will help lead our organizations to greatness. It's our job as managers and leaders of people, to make that happen!