Fired: the infamous “F” word. No one likes it – least of all those that have to say it to someone else. Part of leading a well-run company, though, is knowing when and how to employ it.

The Hardest Part Of Leading A Company

By far, the most difficult aspect of leading a company (or even a division within a company) is firing employees under you who are holding the company back. In this post, we’ll look at why employers hate firing employees, and how to overcome this objection.

First, we should establish the importance of letting employees go. The primary responsibility of a leader is to help a group pursue and attain a goal. Much of a leader’s role is positive: creating a vision, communicating that vision, training employees, and motivating everyone involved. There is a negative side of leadership, though: Leaders must sometimes let the people who are holding the group back from it goal go.As an employer, you’re the leader of your company, which has a specific goal. You’re responsible for creating the vision and business plan, hiring employees and motivating them. And, for better or worse, you’re also responsible for firing employees who are not working out.

Often, employers avoid firing employees, because they don’t think it’s fair or nice. But keeping bad or mediocre employees on your staff is actually unfair: to investors, to other employees, to your customers, and even to the employees themselves. It’s your responsibility, as a leader, to let go of anyone who’s holding your team back from attaining their goals, so that the group – your company – can succeed.

The Main Objection To Firing Employees

Employers’ excuses may be couched in a variety of phrases, but their hesitation to fire employees often comes down to how it makes them feel. Employers feel bad firing people. That discomfort is only made worse when they know the employee personally, or when they know that losing their job will put the employee in a financial bind.Employers will go to great lengths to avoid the feelings that go along with firing someone. Typically, employers first send the employee in question through additional training. If that doesn’t work, many end up accepting substandard performance from the employee, until he or she eventually resigns. That’s how keeping low performers ends up hurting everyone else involved with your company.

The Answer? Learning To Lead

Employers, as leaders of a company, are faced with a predicament. They’re responsible for helping the company attain its goals, which means letting go of employees who are holding the company back. But firing people isn’t easy or fun. What’s a leader to do?As a leader, employers should take an interest in their employees’ lives. Many employers even become friends with their employees after hiring them. But that complicates things when it comes to dealing with low-performers, and it often clouds employers’ judgement about how to deal with those employees.

Conventional business plans focus on one thing: making money. But that’s not the only role companies have in society. Companies also:

  • Impact the well-being of employees and their families
  • Shape legislation through lobbyists
  • Advance technology through inventions and innovations
  • Influence art through product design and marketing
  • Have a presence in communities

As a leader of your company, you have an opportunity to influence all of these. The most important of these, for our purposes? Employee well-being. Though firing low-performing employees can be hard (and can certainly impact their well-being) you can focus your concern in a more productive direction by figuring out how to prioritize the well-being of the employees you do keep on board.

To start with, the vision you set for your company could include more than just a profitable bottom line. Think about how your company could have a positive impact on your employees and their families, and include that in your business plan. One outstanding example of a company that did this? Starbucks, which has offered part-time employees health insurance for years.

The Difficult Issue Of Firing

There are still issues that arise when you have to let someone go. But giving employees value in the company’s vision and business plan may make you feel better about it in the long run. And, when you do have to fire an employee, making sure you do it compassionately and sensitively can help.

Do you find it hard to fire low-performing employees? Do you avoid the “F” word whenever possible?