Ep #25: When NOT to Fire Someone

 In Podcast

We recently looked at when to fire a team member. This episode is about when NOT to fire a team member. It’s a step by step thought process and it’s NEVER easy.

What you’ll find in this episode:

  1. First, you have to do the audit.
  2. Second – question your reason. Are you in a position of emotional reaction to what someone is doing?
  3. Third – ask your business. Would you apply this decision to fire this person to anyone else on your team or is it just this person? Would you be consistent?

Featured on the Show and Other Notes:


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Podcast Transcript

Hey, everyone. I’m Kris Plachy and this is How to Lead for Female Entrepreneurs and Founders, because the best way to grow a business is to grow the person who’s running it. Let’s go ahead and get started.

Hello, gorgeous. How are you today? Hey, so this podcast so I’m going to talk to you about when not to fire someone. Firing is on my mind, clearly, but I promised you this podcast I want to make sure that we talk it through.

I also want to give you a resource. I recently did a webinar that I called Is It Me or Is It Them? It’s interesting. That that webinar came out of a very natural conversation. I was at a mastermind and one of the women in the room said, “I’ve got this assistant and I don’t think it’s going well. I don’t know. Is it me or is it her? I don’t know. Is it me or is it her?” This woman in the mastermind was just confused, so of course she wasn’t taking any action.

I just watched my brain because I’ve had this conversation with so many leaders like you in my life. I just went through the list, right? Well, of course, this is exactly the formula you have to follow to answer that question, right? I went through it with her and as I was sitting there I thought, “Oh, maybe I should share this with other people because of course she was so grateful.” She was like, “Oh, this is so helpful.”

So, I did a webinar on it. If you would like to get your own replay of the webinar, plus I provide with that a worksheet audit that you can go through on your own and assess whether it’s you or whether it’s them, go to krisplachy.com/meorthemaudit. That’s krisplachy.com/meorthemaudit. Just put in your information, you’re going to get immediate access to the replay and you’ll get the audit in your inbox, in your email.

Then let me know what you think after you’ve had a chance to review it because what I want to say about this podcast is that you have to do those six steps before you can truly step into an authentic space of making the decision to hire because you absolutely have to follow the six steps that are in that replay and in the audit to know if you really should fire someone, to really know if it isn’t you and you’re not the one who hasn’t managed this person properly, that you haven’t set expectations, that you haven’t done the follow-through. Before we go off and just fire people, we have to really do a little bit of work on our own.

What I want to do is I’m not going to dive too deeply into all of that content because I’ve already provided it to you and I’m going to give you some additional things to think about that will certainly prep you for the process of going through those six steps.

But firing people is, of course, horrible. I mean, I’ve been managing people for 25 years and I still have a mini meltdown when I know I have to let someone go. I want to preface this by saying I don’t think this should ever get easy. I think the decision-making process should become more simple but I do appreciate that setting up the conversation and telling someone, “I’d like to meet with you tomorrow at 10,” and knowing that tomorrow at 10 you’re going to fire them, I mean, that’s just not fun, right? Unless, of course, they like skipping out the door, but even then. Let’s just tell ourselves the truth that yeah, this is tough. This is a tough thing to do, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do it, okay?

I want to help you with the decision-making process because I watch so many people be so overwhelmed and challenged by thinking about the conversation that then they won’t make any decisions, right? They won’t actually look at and assess the problem and they’re only emotionally connected to, “Oh, I don’t want to have the conversation. I’ve known this person for a long time. They’re going to get really upset. They have five children.” You get really caught up in their story or your story about them and you don’t take the action that you need to take, you don’t make the decision. We’re going to talk about the decisions.

The first piece I would say to you is we don’t fire anybody until you’ve done the work. Now, to me, the work is in that audit. You have to do the audit, okay? I’m just going to leave that very simply.

The second thing I would ask you is to really question your reasons. Do you like your reasons? What I mean by that is are you in a position of emotional reaction to what people are doing, someone’s doing on the team?

Years ago I wrote a book called Change Your Think. It’s about how managers, the people who manage people, this was when I was working in a large startup environment and I was coaching tons of internal corporate leaders, but I was watching this phenomenon that managers’ thought processes about their employees were affecting how they managed.

This is the beginning of my work and I was… As soon as I realized that, even for myself, I was like, “Oh, this is so interesting.” We think the employees could just be different or frankly, if we just fired them, we would feel better. But that is exactly the wrong reason to ever fire someone, okay?

We have to understand what our reasons are. What are the thoughts that you think about this employee and are they actually true? Is anything even true? Or have you told yourself a really uncomfortable story about this employee, like, “They’re lazy,” or, “They don’t care about my company,” or, “They don’t try hard enough,” or, “They’re doing this on purpose,” or, “They’re just not cut out for it,” whatever those thoughts are that you might have about them that are now affecting the ability you have to be in a more analytical position with their performance rather than a judgmental position in assessing their performance, right?

We don’t want judgment in our assessment of their ability to contribute to our company. We want analysis, which is evidence, not opinion, okay? If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 400 times, right? Other people’s performance is not an opinion. Performance is just evidence. It’s just facts, okay?

The next thing I would ask you is would you apply this decision to fire this person to anyone else on the team based on your reasons. Does it hold water or is it just this person? Could other people in your business do what this person is doing and you wouldn’t want to fire them but because this person’s doing it, you want to fire them? There’s something going on there that we need to explore. What are your reasons? Would you be consistent?

When you’re small and you’re maybe a solopreneur or you’re two or three people, I don’t worry about this for you as much as I do for my clients who have larger teams because then you really have to not just think about what you want and how quickly you want to move but we always have to be mitigating risk for our business and you’re the one who has to do that. If you are not consistent in your practices for how you hire and how you fire, you are presenting, you are creating, or allowing for maybe more risk than you need to if you were just to be more consistent, okay?

We talk a lot about having a relationship with your business that’s outside of yourself. I want you to think about your business and I want you to look at her and sit her down and I want you to have a conversation with her. I want you to ask her what she thinks about this employee and how is this employee helping or hurting the success of the business? Is this employee having any contribution to the business, positive or negative? What would the business say? If you’re really tangled up in somebody with your own thinking, this is a way to get a little more objectivity that isn’t other employees.

Please don’t talk to other employees about other employees and whether or not you should fire them. This is exactly why all of y’all who do that right now need to hire a coach or you’ve got to get into some sort of mentorship group or something, right? Because you absolutely should not be talking with other peers of this person about whether or not we should fire this person. While I appreciate might logically make sense as the words are coming out of my mouth, that is not what’s happening. You are consulting with team members about whether or not other team members should stay.

Now if that’s a part of like an onboarding process that you have where everybody gives feedback and it’s very structured and it’s very consistent and it’s formal and it’s expected, like, “Hey, part of what we do here is you come in, you work with us for a while, then everybody gives feedback and then we make a consensus decision about whether or not you align both from a skillset perspective and also a cultural fit,” that’s different because as a new employee, I know that’s coming.

Or if you have an annual assessment process where everybody provides a 360 and that you give 360 feedback to each other, that’s very different than you taking Joni to lunch and saying, “Hey, I don’t really know what to do about what about so-and-so. What do you think? Do you think she’s a good fit for this company, Joni? Because I don’t know. I’m kind of worried.” That is what I’m talking about. That’s just gossip. It’s not constructive and it does not help your culture, so stop it immediately.

Ask your business, though. Have a discussion with your business. Ask your business what her objectives are, what she’s trying to achieve and how this particular employee satisfies the role to achieve those objectives. Then have you done an audit? Have you done the work?

One of the knee-jerk reactions I can see in a lot of my clients is they just want to fire somebody because they just don’t want to deal with it because it’s uncomfortable, right? Because you have a lot of thoughts about someone and a lot of the time, especially when I first start working with a client, we want to fire people because we’ve been ignoring a problem for some time and it just feels like it’s such a layered, tangled mess to try and figure out where to begin.

That’s why I love my audit because it just tells you exactly where to begin. It doesn’t matter how long somebody’s worked for you, what level of position they’re in, how tangled up they are in your personal life and your professional life or your business, all the things. You can literally start with step one and go through every step.

But because a lot of us don’t have those skills and we haven’t learned how to do that, which is normal, as an entrepreneur, you have a particular skillset, which is is very unlikely to be managing people, which is fine. But you can get into these situations with certain people that can be challenging, so you’re just wanting to extricate and get yourself out of it.

Unfortunately, there’s work for you to do first. If you just accept that as truth, right? Just trust me. Just do the work on yourself first. Do the audit, answer these questions, do the work, really question your reasons. Assess those against actual performance versus your judgment. Get into analysis, which the audit helps you understand what that really even means because there’s production, there’s behavior, and then we have to have expectations and goals to measure those against. Then ask your business what she would say and get out of the business of talking to everybody else and getting their opinion. Then do the audit and then make a decision and decide to decide and go forward.

Now I just was talking with my clients in my group program and we were talking about how hard it is to make decisions. I think it’s a superpower to be able to make decisions but we have a tendency to think about the decision is to fire someone but the decision really isn’t just to fire them, the decision is first to do the audit. Then within the audit, there’s all these decisions that you have to continue to move forward with. Then once I’ve done the audit, I’m going to make the decision to assess my reasons.

Once I’ve done that, I’m going to make the decision to ask my business. Once I’ve done that, I’m going to make the decision to do one thing or another. Once I’ve done that, I will make the decision to schedule an appointment. Once I’ve done that, I will make the decision to fire.

The big decision is always a small decision first. That’s what we have to remember. The big decision always starts with small ones. When we’re thinking about firing someone, we can’t just decide, “Should I fire them or not?” That’s a huge decision, right? Your brain is either excited about it or terrified.

But there’s lots of little things you can do that then lead you to, “Oh, well, the next natural decision is I schedule an appointment for 10:00 tomorrow, then the next natural decision is I show up for that appointment, and then the next natural decision is I choose the words I want to say to let someone go.” Okay?

When you want to fire someone, this is a cue that you have work to do. This is not a cue that they are crazy, making you nuts, need to go, if they just leave, you will feel better. Because we know that actually sitting down to fire someone, does that make you feel better? It puts you back into discomfort, right? But we can get better at making these decisions sooner and quicker when we have a process, which is why I set up the six steps for you.

I hope you’ll check those out. I think you’re going to find them super, super helpful. It’s a little bit of studying in terms of understanding it but if you run a business, you have to get good at firing people. You have to get good at hiring people and you have to get good at firing people. It’s just true.

You can argue with me that you wish you could hire other people to do all this work for you. You’re still going to have someone you have to manage and you’re going to still have somebody you’re going to end up having to fire. If that’s not in your purview and you don’t agree with me, then I think you’re going to suffer as a business owner.

Why not just learn? Let’s go. Let’s get good at it, right? We can always be awkward. You know what? You might fail at it. You might do a terrible job firing someone. They might cry and tell you you’re horrible and write a bad Yelp review but you’ll learn something and then you have the mechanism and the tools to go forward and do it again, okay?

Now if you want to coach with me, I really want you to think about a couple of things. If you are a woman who runs a business that generates seven figures in revenue, I am currently scheduling one-on-one consultations with a select group. I don’t have a ton of openings but I am currently registering for a few spots in my personal coaching program.

There’s so much I love about what I’m doing with these women but mostly it’s that we take a lot of these concepts that you and I talk about here on the podcast but then we wrapped them around very specific challenges that each woman is facing in her business.

It’s an exclusive experience, right? You have to be really ready to dive in and do the work and be willing. There’s no passengers here. These are women who are high profile clients, thought leaders in their space.

If that’s you, the problem with being that woman, I mean, there’s not a lot of problems, but one of the biggest challenges I think that my clients face is they’re are so well-established, they’re such thought leaders in their space that it’s hard for them to find a place to go where they can actually be a little vulnerable in the areas that they’re not good at, right?

I mean, I have a client who’s going to Necker Island who’s been invited. I have another client who’s been invited to go meet the Dalai Lama. They’re clients who are making very many millions of dollars and are the premier thought leader in their space.

Once you’ve reached these certain pinnacles professionally, there’s this assumption that you know how to do a lot of things. But do you know what I know? I know that people who are making $50 million or $25 million or $100 million are struggling with firing someone. They’re struggling with managing the business partner that they’ve had for 22 years. They don’t know how to address an issue with an employee that’s been going on for six months, right? Just because you’re really, really capable and proven doesn’t mean that managing people comes easily to you.

I just want to stress that I get it. That’s why I create the space for you, because that inability for you is affecting the growth of your business. It’s also affecting the joy that you have in your business.

If you’ve been gnawing on it and thinking about it, maybe it’s time you and I met. The application process that you go through when you meet with me helps you know if this is the right space for you or not. Then once you do, we will confirm whether or not we should go forward.

But you just go to krisplachy.com/appointment, you’ll answer the questions, and then we will get back with you and let you know what the next best steps will be. If I don’t think you’re where you need to be to start working with me and the other women I work with, I will absolutely point you in a direction that I think is best for where you and your business are right now, okay?

The two resources I’ve provided for you today are to go to krisplachy.com/meorthemaudit and if you’re ready and you really vibe on the way that I just described my client that I work with, please go to krisplachy.com/appointment and complete the application and we will take a look, review your answers, and confirm with you how best to move forward.

Thank you for tuning in today and I will talk with you again soon.

Hey, don’t miss a thing. Make sure you join my community at krisplachy.com/connect. Once you join, you’ll get all the information on exclusive and private experiences that I’m offering to my clients. I can’t wait to see you there.

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