“When something is inevitable, make it immediate.”  Unknown

Take the case of building the right team to lead your business, or just to perform the tasks of your department.  Whatever the level of your operation, the issue is the same.

One of the most common leadership failures is hiring too fast and firing too slowly.  When a position is open and the right person is not available, it is hard to wait. The tendency is to alter your expectations…compromise on some of those skills you were looking for…fill the role with the best AVAILABLE person, not the RIGHT person.  We talked about that in the post “Select, Don’t Settle”.

…people on the shop floor in your operation are aware of an individual not carrying their share of the load long before you are. 

On the flip side is the mistake of waiting too long to let someone go.  If a person is so bad in a position that you want to let them go, then allowing them to continue in the role can be more damaging than having no one in the role at all. 

The longer it takes you to recognize poor performers and act on them, the more damaging it is to your organization. 

  • It damages the motivation/energy of your team.
    • It affects Quality…Productivity…Innovation.

People in the organization know when one person is not performing.  If the situation is not managed they become demotivated, which effects their energy level and their own commitment to performance.  They see that sub-standard performance is not managed.  They lose pride in their work and you get substandard performance from people who would normally be strong performers.  Left unchecked, this will spread throughout the organization. 

Worse, you fail to draw the best from your employees…in which they are bringing their own creative energies to the workplace.

However, the most damaging impact of failing to identify and remove poor performers is that you become perceived as a weak leader.  You should recognize that the people on the shop floor in your operation…i.e., not the managers and supervisors…are aware of an individual not carrying their share of the load long before you are.  They are closer to it; they see it every day.  However, you cannot expect them to inform you.  It is against “the code”.  You have got to find out on your own.  When you do, you must act. 

People will not resent you for cleaning house…they will respect it.  They know it needs to be done, and it makes their lives easier because chances are that they have been carrying the load for that person all along.

The organization will not fall apart.  It has been my experience that people on the shop floor will be motivated by the move and will step up to fill the void.  As I said above, chances are that they have already been doing that.

Most critical is that if the individual you are removing is in a position which is visible to the customer, chances are that the customer already knows as well!  Think about that!  Being decisive and having a plan in place to manage the transition will build confidence with your customers.

Pretty serious stuff…when something is inevitable, make it immediate.  Sounds almost humorous, but it has a real effect on your business.  There are many other applications of this concept in your business…not just removing a poor performing employee.  The implications on your leadership are the same in each!