Fire People Who Don’t Work

If you’d like to hire people but you can’t because you have no open reqs, take a good long look at the people you do have. Are any of your staff prima donnas, “indispensable”, or just not doing the work?

If you have people who aren’t being successful, you have several choices:

  1. Make sure you’ve given them specific feedback about their work or behaviors.
  2. Decide whether to coach them. (Don’t bother with prima donnas or with idiots who just don’t work.)
  3. Decide if they’re worth a get-well plan.
  4. Follow your company’s process to fire the people who aren’t successful in their jobs.

Sometimes, as with the “indispensable” people, other people may be terrified for you to fire them. I once worked with someone who controlled the sources. (See Retrain Your Code Czar.) When I suggested we fire him because he wouldn’t come to work and refused to even attempt to work with other people, the other senior staff were horrified. “If we fire him, what will we do about the source code?” I suggested that they could rewrite the code in less time it took this indispensable employee to build the system – at his home – in his own private source code system – after he changed the variable names to names he liked. I temporarily won, but after I left, they rehired him.

When you retain people who can’t do perform all the technical and work-with-other-people work, you make it harder for the people who are working to stay. The economy is starting to pick up, so your best people will have options about what to do next. The longer you retain people who aren’t helpful to the product or the group, the more likely your best people will leave as soon as they can.

When you do fire people who aren’t successful in your organization, other people’s morale rises. And, then you’ll have that open req. A warm body is not better than a cold body; a warm body provides the illusion of work. A cold body (nobody) means the work isn’t happening. So, fire the people who prevent you from working. Then you’ll be able to hire.

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