A huge amount of office work is about relationships. How you get on with and relate to your colleagues. How you work together and support each other on a day to day basis.
If your relationships are strong and honesty, trust and respect are evident then you’re in a good place, but this isn’t always the case.
Sometimes there’s someone slowing you down. A passenger in the midst. A leech on the positvity, energy and enthusiasm of those around them.
The Apprentice is back on TV and while it’s obviously very contrived, I love it. The brutality of it. The bluntness of Lord Sugar. The weird face of Karen Brady. I also love the simplistic view of Big Al:
‘I can’t see myself working with this person’ / ‘Time to get rid of the dead wood’
He doesn’t mess around, he tells it like it is and sometimes is bloody rude about it too. But the candidates soak it up, they don’t crumble, they take it on the chin and crack on with their lives. They welcome the honesty.
I’ve previously referenced the need to make big decisions when you lead a team and not be scared to change personnel when required. It can be hard to know when to do this when it relates to people. In fact the whole damn thing is hard when your dealing with others feelings and careers. Not all of us have skin as thick as the candidates on T.V.
As someone who puts a lot of care and effort into nurturing relationships at work this process is something I personally struggle with. My instinct is to ‘give it a few more weeks’ and to spend time with that person and try to coach them during that time. Sometimes it helps (rarely because I’m not a good coach yet), more often than not it doesn’t, but doing nothing is definitely not the answer.
When it feels like the time is right to make a change here’s a list of questions that help with this decision making process. Happy to share it in the hope that it may assist you through a tricky spot, but would love to know what else you do in this situation that helps you (please use the comments section below).
Does the person in question make your life easier? Are they a help or a hindrance to you and your teams progress? On a day to day basis, do you have to spend extra time to monitor and check the quality of their work? Or do you attend less meetings because they’ve got it covered for you?
Have they been given clear feedback (and the chance to react to it)? Some people need a kick up the arse occasionally and it prompts them to up their game, to re-focus and get back on track, but it’s really important to put your cards on the table and provide an opportunity and time to see how they respond.
How do they make you feel? When you think of this person in a work context do they make you smile or frown? Is your first reaction that they are up to it or that they don’t cut the mustard? Trust your gut, it’s normally right.
Is anyone else of the same opinion? Approach this with others in your team in a non judgmental way. Be curious but be careful this doesn’t turn into a witch hunt. Find your Nick Hewer or Karen Brady, someone you trust who has their ear to the ground and will give you honest feedback
Is there hope? Are they showing skills that would be better in a different role? A different department? Is there a willing attitude to learn, develop and improve? Maybe they are just in the wrong place at the moment but would do well elsewhere in the company?
What would be the impact if they were not part of your team? A quick list of pro’s and con’s is easy to bash out on the back of a napkin. Be objective and factual. Take emotion out of the equation. Time box the exercise, take 10 mins to complete it, then do a quick tally. Which side has more words?
Do they unleash your greatness? Are you a better person for having them in your team? Do they allow you the freedom to flourish? Do they encourage and inspire you to do better?
So what to do next? Having gone through these questions you will have a clear view of whether to stick with them or pull the plug and fire them. (I bet it’s what you thought of in the first place, but you’ve now properly validated it.)
So make your decision. Act on it straight away. Stick to it.
You are doing the right thing, for yourself, for the rest of your team and also for the person in question. Don’t delay, be bold and sort it, today. If it’s required then take aim, and fire!
P.S. If this scares the crap out of you, don’t worry, that just means your human. Next week there will be more tips on this tricky subject, but rather than focusing on whether to fire someone or not, we will look at how to fire them once you’ve made the decision to pull the trigger.