A lot has been said lately about some companies canceling the contracts of some of their more “troublesome” clients. Even Seth Godin offered some advice about when you cancel customers and if it’s a good idea at all. I’ll talk in a later post about firing clients, but when it comes to firing employees, it’s an interesting issue – especially at non-profit organizations, where people are often working for more than money. Some feel called, some volunteer, and others value the experience far more than they would a normal job.
The question is, are they effective? From a “firing employees” point of view, here’s my thought. Not firing an employee who’s doing a bad job is the same as lying to them. In essence, by not firing them you’re tell them that what they’re doing is OK, and it’s giving them a distorted view of their performance.
That’s why I’m an advocate of getting them out of the job, and helping them find the place where their talents and gifts could be used more effectively.
Too many non-profits – especially churches – refuse to fire under-performers. Granted, other issues may be involved, but how can you be accountable in a non-profit situation when employees are screwing up?
I used to know one marketing director at a major church who we estimated was costing the church at least $100,000 a year through her incompetence. She was literally killing the place. It took years to fire her, but not before she almost put them out of business.
Help your people who are underperforming. If training will help, do it. If mentoring will help, do it. If moving them to another position will help, do it. But if everything else has failed, get them out of there. Don’t dump them on the street, but help them find a better place where they can grow.
They may not agree with you at the time, but they will eventually. A friend of mine just fired his assistant, and when he broke the news, she said, “I’m so grateful. I was over my head and drowning, but I was embarrassed to quit. This is the best thing that could happen.”
Get over the awkwardness about firing people. It shouldn’t be about anger, retribution, or frustration. It should be part of the process of helping all your people find the right place where they can make a difference. If it’s not in your organization, then help then land somewhere else where they can perform at a higher level.