Hiring or firing: Which is tougher for you?

Motivational speaker Brian Tracy says the most stressful part of a manager’s life is having to let someone go. The second most stressful is being let go. In the corporate environment, if you continually fail to do the first, the second will probably happen to you.

On the face of it, business owners seem free of this stress. But the reality is they’re not. Business owners may not get fired for failing to terminate under-performing staff, but it costs them dearly in terms of money, time and turnover of other staff, who become frustrated and leave because the under-performers are not being disciplined.

There are many reasons why business owners hesitate to de-hire under-performing staff:

  • They hope it will work out.
  • They fear unfair dismissal claims.
  • The staff member is a relative or friend.
  • They do not like conflict or confrontation.

Understanding your behavioural style and why you procrastinate making certain decisions is the first step to dealing with the problem. The DiSC® behavioural model is a great place to start. It focuses on the energy it takes different people to perform different functions.

Under that model, the dominance or D-style profile is about how people make decisions. For business owners who are low in that behavioural style, dialling up their D factor is an effective way of overcoming their natural resistance or reluctance to make the tough decisions regarding under-performing staff.

Business owners need to see themselves as corporate managers. Corporate managers who fail to make the tough decisions are fired. Similarly, business owners who fail to make and implement the tough decisions undermine their own business.

There are four critical decisions business owners must make when terminating staff:

  • How to minimise the risk of an unfair dismissal claim.
  • When to terminate.
  • How to communicate the decision.
  • Where to communicate the decision.

It’s important you have a written termination process and stick to the deadlines.

The starting point is to understand your own behavioural style so you can adjust your behaviour to the situation. Terminating staff is not just about being tough, it’s about being sensible. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself, whether you make a decision or not.

If you need help navigating the termination process, email me at bryan@bryanworn.com.

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