You Always Have the Option of Firing Non-Performers

Now that I’m back from vacation, I’m catching up on my reading. I enjoyed David Anderson’s Management versus Leadership on ‘The Apprentice’ which prompted me to think about what I would have done in Kwame’s place. It took me a long time to learn, but a manager always has the option of firing people who can’t perform the work. I’m not saying you should fire as a first resort — on the contrary. You should exhaust your other alternatives before firing. But if firing is necessary (and I believe it was necessary in the last episode of “The Apprentice”), then fire the non-performer.Some of you are saying, “Oh no, JR, not me. It’s too hard to fire anyone here.” Ok. I didn’t say it would be easy, but you have options, such as:

  • Transfer a non-performer to another team. Let some other manager deal with this headache.
  • Assign that person less- and less-responsible work. Determine at what level the employee can perform useful work. Maybe the employee has reached his or her level of incompetence.
  • Eliminate raises for the non-performer. In case you’re wondering, that’s all raises. No bonus, no raise, no cost of living adjustment, nothing. Raises are about increased value by the employee for the company. If the employee doesn’t increase his or her value, don’t reward the employee.
  • Coach a non-performer to leave. Sometimes, the non-performer sticks around out of a misplaced sense of loyalty.
  • Call your best recruiter friend and provide the name and contact information of the non-performer, along with a recommendation the recruiter send that person to your competitor.

It’s difficult to succeed with people who don’t perform. And, if you’re faced with one non-performer, with an otherwise high-performing team, the faster you move the non-performer out, the faster the output of your group will rise.

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