September 11, 2007
"I Love to Fire People"
More than one friend of mine has been fired from a job. I’m not talking about being downsized, going out of business, being a victim of cutbacks, being laid off or, as our friends on the other side of the Pond say, being made redundant. I’m talking fired, dismissed, sacked, given a pink slip. Maybe I just hang out with the wrong people.
This has made me very conscious of the fact that there are many wrong ways to fire someone and only a few right ways. One executive said the only way to do it is to tell people face to face, and then go to the bathroom and throw up. Firing is just not fun for anyone.
Then one day I was talking with Brian. “I just love to fire people,” he said. And he didn’t mean “with enthusiasm.” I was about to look around for a padded room when Brian went on.
“I’m a sales manager. I have a dozen sales people under me. Most do a great job. Some don’t. Those that don’t move on. It’s not about personality conflicts or bad attitudes or being a troublemaker. It’s about performance. It’s about being as objective and measurable as possible. It’s about helping people succeed—either in this job or in another one that suits them better.”
That’s easy for him to say, I say to myself. He’s dealing with sales. You sell a hundred widgets a month or you are gone. It’s easy.
“It’s never easy,” he says. “But I do such a good job of firing people that I almost never have to fire anyone.”
Now I really know he needs major medication. He sees my skeptical look.
“No. It’s true. I do such a good job that a week or two before I know I am going to have to fire someone, they usually tell me they are quitting. They’ve found another job. So I don’t even have to fire them.”
How does Brian do it? Stay tuned.