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Firing Uncle Joe

Written by Ed Callahan on July 19, 2010

Implementers EOS Organization Business

The most difficult challenge for a business leader or manager is dealing with the poor performance of a long tenured employee, especially when that employee happens to be a family member or friend.

Whatever the case or cause, hoping the situation will improve over time is not the best strategy. In fact, allowing poor performance from a family member, friend or veteran employee can kill the chemistry and morale in your organization, so you can’t let your relationship or their time with the company cloud your thinking.

When any significant slip in performance occurs, respond with a review, a face-to-face clarifying conversation to get answers to 2 pivotal questions:

1. Does the employee value what you value? Presuming you have non-negotiable company core values that have been properly communicated, does the employee exhibit those values most of the time. If not, specifically discuss where they are not in alignment and give them a defined period of time to change their behavior to meet your expectations. Ask them what they are going to do to change. If their behavior doesn’t prove that they care about what you care about most, it doesn’t matter how long they have been with you or how closely related they are. They have to go.

2. Does the employee get it, want it and have the capacity to do what you need done? Again, presuming your expectations are clear and have been properly communicated, and you have supplied the necessary resources for them to succeed, does the employee get it or do you have to keep explaining your expectations again and again? Does the employee really want the job because they like doing the job or are they just showing up for a paycheck? Finally, do they do the job well – are they really good at it? If the answer to any of these questions is no and you believe the employee could contribute in some other position in the company where the answers would all be yes, change that person’s seat in the company. When no other suitable seat exists, the employee must be removed for the good of the entire organization.

I know it’s hard, but great leaders and managers make the tough decisions and do the right thing for the greater good of the organization. Do you need to have a conversation this week?


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