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What Are You Waiting For?
By Wally Adamchik
Aug 10, 2008 - 11:59:38 AM

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You would have to be from another planet to not know that our economy is weak today. While some of my clients continue to prosper and are as busy today as they were last year at this time, others are under pressure on the top line and the bottom line. Whether you are prospering or under pressure, this is the time to take a critical look at your staff and take appropriate action.

I confess this article is a bit of a departure for me. Normally, I talk about leadership, coaching, engagement and other strategies to retain people and help them succeed, be more productive and contribute to the firm. However, today I am going the other way. Quite simply, there are some people in your organization who you may need to let go. This can be difficult--one reason being the current state of our economy. I sure don't like to put people on the street in rough times. Another reason is that you may think you've failed as a manager, having been unable to lead and motivate this employee to give the quality of work you require. But we must do this for the health of the firm and for our credibility as managers.

There are three possible scenarios here:
(1) Business is bad and costs must be cut to maintain profitability.
(2) Business is not great, but not too bad. A little belt-tightening is called for, but overall the firm remains profitable and will weather the storm.
(3) Business continues to be strong and no changes to expenditures or staff are needed.

It is on scenarios (2) and (3) that I am focusing. In both of these situations, we know there are employees who have not been pulling their weight, who need to be fired. There may be several reasons why they're still around. Some of those reasons may be valid, but most are just weak excuses. Now is the time to act. You owe it to the firm and to all the employees who are working hard. You want a high level of production and contribution from everyone. Settling for less costs you money. This drain on your bottom line must be addressed. Also, beyond the vitality of the firm is another reason you must take action: everyone is watching you.

They are watching to see if you will do anything. Your integrity is at stake. You have stood up and said that the work needs to be done a certain way, or that a certain level of production must be reached. Because you said it, people assume that you mean it. So, when an employee does not conform to this or adhere to the guidelines, the rest of the employees who do conform expect accountability. If you don't act, you send the message that you don’t mean what you say. You lose credibility and become weak in the eyes of those you have to lead.

It's tough to let someone go. I wish this weren't the case, but it is. If you have a decent performance evaluation system, it can be somewhat less difficult. If you don't have one, then you may have to do some extra work to justify your decision to yourself and the staff. But the work must be done. Our economy will continue to be weak for the near-term. You want your team to be as strong and efficient as possible always. Making the right decisions about who should be on the team is the best way to do that.

Wally Adamchik is the President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting, a national leadership consulting firm based in Raleigh, NC. You can visit the website at www.FireStarterSpeaking.com or email him at [email protected]. He is the author of No Yelling (www.noyelling.net).


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