Bruce Tulgan tells the four reasons you have to fire a low performer, and the best way to get low performers to leave on their own.

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6 replies
  1. Benjamin Strong
    Benjamin Strong says:

    Perfect advice! I love this guy.

    I had the unfortunate opportunity to fire a low performer. This employee not only was a low performer, but he lied and sabotaged one of our largest annual projects. It was, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever done as a manager. I know difficult tasks. I used to be a firefighter/paramedic and there is nothing worse than telling people their loved one is dead. Firing someone ranks right up there with telling a family that grandma is dead.

    Fortunately our HR department actually had people in place to walk the manager through the firing process. We didn't waste time. I didn't let the employee hang around. Instead he was invited to leave while the process worked. We clearly articulated the infraction, the consequences, and our actions. He was asked to turn in his equipment, credit cards, keys, etc. Since this was a government job I also spent time clearly articulating the employees appeal rights (not that he really had any). I wanted to be firm but fair.

    Once it was done I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. To anyone that has somebody that is just an overwhelmingly low performer I agree with Bruce and say get rid of them, and FAST!

  2. Tom Morgan
    Tom Morgan says:

    Bruce’s advice is right on the money.

    However, managing poor performers seems to be low on managements priority list until there is a restructuring or downsizing.

    I have been a manager and know the drudgery of disciplining a poor performer out of the company. HR generally requires a multi step process that requires paper work and one on one counseling.

    On the other hand I have observed and experienced how a poor performer can annoy and negatively impact high performers. If you want to consistently have high performing teams / companies then one must actively manager performance on a daily basis.

  3. laurence haughton
    laurence haughton says:

    Bob Nardelli (and his top executives) fired a lot of supposed low performers at Home Depot over the last five years. Here’s what’s interesting… many of those same people went over to Lowe’s and have succeeded. So were they really low performers?

    There are many causes for low performance and many cures. Sometimes you have to fire… but even more often you have to do something else.

  4. Rebecca Wells
    Rebecca Wells says:

    I wish more managers would take this advice to heart — particularly the point about high performers. Think of it this way: Are you so afraid to manage someone out that you’re willing to lose all of your good workers? Because that’s the tradeoff you need to be willing to make.

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