In the world of business, entrepreneurship, management, leadership… there are going to be occasions when letting someone go is necessary. It is never easy, but necessary. It is important to recognize why you are letting the person go, and that you let the person go.
When it comes time to let the person so, as the leader, you need to have done everything possible to help the person succeed. This includes training, educating, mentoring, finding the right fit (the right job in the organization), counseling, motivating, etc. If you have done each of these to the best of your ability (and this is not an all-inclusive list), and the individual is not receptive, then you can justifiably say it is time to go.
Generally, when you hire someone in the first place, they are perceived to be technically competent and have the right “stuff” to get the job done. They have the experience, the savvy, charisma, knowledge, etc. When you bring them on board, reality sets in and some of these attributes may not have been quite accurate. This is where your leadership comes into play. Work with them and help them become what they have the potential to become. When you have done all that you (and they) can do, and it is not working out, then it is best to move on.
Why? Well, it may seem obvious, but they are not the right fit for your team and organization – even if they think so. As the leader, you must invest the time to ensure they are the right fit. If they are technically competent yet do not get along with others, how is this affecting your organizational climate or culture? Are they charismatic yet incompetent and contribute insignificantly to your mission, how does this affect your team? Probably not very well, if at all.
Additionally, you are doing them a disservice by keeping them on a team that they are not ready for (for whatever reason). Many people do not like to fire (let them go, terminate, encourage them to move on…) because it is uncomfortable and it will devastate the individual. If you, as the leader, have done your job the entire time, then their departure from the team should be expected – because you have helped them, trained them, given them opportunities, etc. At some point, you may (should) have even told them they need to get on track or be prepared to move on – in a more personable manner of course. The point is, them moving on should not really be a surprise.
Whenever terminating anyone for any reason, do it yourself. Do not delegate this to someone else when you should be doing it. In many cases this works. In a small business, the employee works directly for you. In a team, the individual likely reports to you or a subordinate leader. In a department, you are responsible for your team – so you own everything that goes on (or doesn’t), and that includes the uncomfortable “letting go”.
I know there are organizations that have human resource policies that require the HR department to be more involved, or you come across a hostile employee that needs security to escort them out of the door, but for all intents and purposes, you as the leader need to tell them what is happening and why.
Going back to the why helps the individual know actually why they are being let go. And actually tell them why they are being let go. Giving them some generic “this is not the right fit” does not help them move on. Give them actual reasons why they are being let go. This will help them improve for their next adventure. Remember, just because they were not the right fit for your team or organization, does not mean they are not the right fit for another. So, keep this in mind. If it was truly just a fit issue, help them find something else in another organization which could suit them. This could be your last bit of leadership you can provide them – helping them move on and seeing the benefit in doing so.
However, if they are hostile, always late, unproductive, or anything that you just cannot stand behind, a reference may not be a good idea – but you still need to tell them so they know where to improve.
It is your responsibility
The last reason I will mention why you must do the deed, is it is your responsibility to do so. This is not one of those actions that you should delegate. If you own the small business, are the leader of a small team or department, etc. then you have the responsibility to have that conversation. I look at it this way, if I am the ultimate decision-maker on hiring them, then it is my responsibility to tell them it is time to move on (and why, of course).
I have seen cases where the terminating of an employee happens by a middle-manager, who was never part of the hiring process, who barely dealt with the individual except for punitive actions (while the true manager – notice I didn't say leader – provided the positive reinforcement), leaving the middle-manager in the “bad-guy” position. This destroys the middle-manager (or whomever this job was delegated to) because they are left doing the dirty work. This makes the individual strongly dislike their job, the organization, and likely does not see you as their leader.
To sum this up, lead your team and do everything you can to help them succeed. If, in the end, they are not suited to your team, you let them go and tell them why.
I would like to know what you think about this. Send us an email or comment below.
Until next time…
A while back, I wrote about what a mentor is. You can check that out here. Mentors and coaches are somewhat used synonymously, but they are actually different. A mentor is someone who will guide you along your journey to achieve a certain goal, usually to gain a promotion, become better at a certain aspect of your job or role (such as leadership, accounting, etc.).
A coach, on the other hand, is there to help you improve in a certain area of your work (professional business) or life (life coach). Each have a different purpose. Within each coaching type, you will find coaches that specialize in more specific areas based on their area of expertise. For example, some business coaches focus on leadership, efficiency, accounting, or general business practices.
A business coach will help with improve:
A business coach will also:
A life coach will:
A life coach is not a board-certified therapist. A life coach will help identify areas in your life that can be improved upon, and help make recommendations. One of these recommendations may be to seek professional counseling as a means to improve in a certain area of your life.
Both business and life coaches will provide recommendations. Typically, that is all they are – recommendations. So, it is up to you to decipher whether (or not) the advice/recommendation given is right for you. Keep in mind that the coach is giving you their best advice, to help you succeed, and be the best you can. Your time is valuable, and so is theirs. If you disagree (completely) with your coach too often, you may not have the right coach for you. If you find this to be true, perhaps seek a different coach. They will do the same (if they are any good). It doesn’t help either party to continue a relationship (because that is what it is) if neither are agreeing with each other or are dissatisfied.
Next week, I will discuss why everyone needs a coach.
Until next time…
I was struggling at work for quite some time several years back. Not that I was challenged or facing problems in my office, it was the opposite. I was unchallenged and struggling to find purpose and meaning in my work. I worked with some great people and had an excellent team, yet I was unsatisfied. My father asked me a simple question followed by simple advice. What is it you like to do at work. Once you know, then do that as much as you can. It was almost too easy.
Well, I knew I liked to mentor and teach, and I seemed to naturally gravitate to these aspects of my job – not that I was amazing at it, but I enjoyed it. I wanted to have a more significant impact on my team, and most of them could care less how great my PowerPoint looked or how many meetings I held. But motivating and educating, if done right, could last a lifetime. I remember my mentors and great teachers for their encouragement and inspiration more than I remember most of what they taught.
So… Why is it so important?
Mentoring is probably one of the most important things a leader can do. Why? Because this is how you build leaders and prepare them to lead others in a positive and meaningful way. Mentoring others is (can) be easy too. It starts with setting a good example. Remember, people are always watching. Mentoring is a process. It takes time and commitment from the mentor and mentee. Both will benefit from the relationship.
Once I grasped the idea of mentoring and teaching in the workplace, I began doing just that. I shifted my time and efforts from “doing the work” to strategy development, mentoring others, and teaching them different aspects of their job and mine. Teaching them my role and responsibility ensured that, if I left for any reason – transferred, quit, promoted, or anything else – that they would be able to continue succeeding (no single point of failure in my organization). I had already been doing these things, but my energy shifted from “the work” to these other aspects – I went from spending 25% of my time teaching and mentoring to 75%. The results were amazing. Productivity increased within my team greatly, they were more engaged and energized, and I began enjoying my work again.
After some time, I felt I was almost no longer needed. My team had a firm grasp on their duties and were taking on new challenges. I began focusing more energy on strategizing for my organization, taking on new roles and responsibilities, and becoming the “catch-all” for additional duties. It was quite interesting and gave me a whole new perspective on how the organization ran. However, my joy started to diminish as I was doing less mentoring and teaching, and more “other” stuff. I needed to get back to where my heart longed. The problem is, I didn't have anywhere to go. Promotions were unavailable, positions were already filled, and I was somewhat stuck in the position I was in – somewhat mentoring and teaching others what I had learned over the years, and doing the “catch-all” work. It wasn’t bad, just not fulfilling.
What does this mean for you?
As you go to work each day or work on your business, find what you love the most and do that. Sure, you will have to do other tasks that are less fulfilling – they just need to get done – but ensure you spend enough time doing what you love in order to be completely engaged and satisfied. If you are struggling to find your love in your work, perhaps you need to re-think what or how it is you are doing (it). You can find a new job. Do what you love for your business focus. Find your love and embrace it. The adage goes, if you love what you do (for a living), you will never work a day in your life.
To learn more about coaching, check out our mentoring blog posts below.
What is a Mentor?
Award Winning Mentorship
How to Make the Most Out of Your Mentor/Mentee Relationship
Until next time…
You have just determined that you would like a mentor. How do you make the most out of your new or potential mentor/mentee relationship? Well, why is it that you want a mentor? Some of your responses should be:
As the mentee, you should be the one to seek a mentor. Now, if you are a part of a great organization or have great leadership (or both), then chances are someone may approach you and either recommend you find a mentor and offer to mentor you. Some may even mentor you without making it “official”.
If nobody approaches you, then you find them. As mentioned a few weeks ago, find someone who:
You may even find a couple of mentors based on your roles in life. Perhaps a professional mentor or coach at work, a non-profit board member, perhaps a church leader. Many people have multiple roles in life and each role may have a mentor specific to that function. Some may need a coach more than a mentor in some areas (I will touch on coaching next week).
You now have an idea of why you need a mentor and what you are looking for in a mentor. So, what is your part in all of this? Take a quick look at last week’s post about being a mentor. Towards the end I listed 7 things to consider when mentoring (these are by no means the only things to consider). As the mentee, you will do something along the same lines. So, consider these when being mentored:
If you noticed, number 7 is the same from the mentor list. You will both learn and make mistakes as you go through this process and develop your relationship. It is a journey, not checklist. Enjoy your relationship as you both learn from each other and you gain new insights and wisdom from your mentor.
Jared W. Snow
A mentor is someone willing to help guide someone else towards the achievement of a specific goal, someone with experience in a certain area, able to provide guidance, direction, and constructive criticism based on experience and knowledge gained.
Many think a mentor is someone who will cheer in your corner and tell you that you are making great decisions. It makes you feel invincible and that all of your decisions are correct. You feel like you can do nothing wrong. Then… it happens. Your mentor challenges you to take a larger step forward, maybe even a leap!
Mentors are more than a cheerleader applauding when things go right, or encouraging when things go wrong. A mentor seeks to help find the most beneficial path for your journey and will provide a directional change if a correction is needed. Sometimes, perhaps more often than you might think, your mentor will challenge you to make those uncomfortable decisions, taking you outside of your comfort zone, helping you grow in the process. The intention is not to simply make you uncomfortable (although that is likely going to happen), but to help you become stronger and more knowledgeable in some area.
What is the difference between a mentor and a coach?
They are quite similar, depending on who you ask. I take a different approach with mentoring than with coaching, which drives my definition. Mentors and coaches will help with some challenge or concern in your professional and/or personal (yes, personal) life. The key difference is outcome and time.
The mentor/mentee relationship is more of a partnership that may last a long time (years or even decades). It is less formal in nature and follows a more holistic approach, looking at the whole person and situation to help them grow personally and professionally. There may be a specific set of concerns to address or it may just be someone looking to grow in general.
The coach/coachee relationship follows a more structured approach, designed to resolve a specific issue or concern within a specified period of time (30 days to a year, sometimes more). The structure to resolve the issue or concern is driven by the coach. The emphasis is resolution of a specific issue such as leading unmotivated people, career transition, becoming more organized… If you can think it, there is probably a coach that specializes in it.
I tend to coach my mentee through specific situations to accomplish the task at hand, while mentoring them through the process. For those looking for a coach only (to get through a situation), the focus becomes issue resolution, resulting in some degree of mentoring. Ultimately, call it what you want. The point is to help others through guidance and direction.
How do I find a mentor?
Well, it really depends on why you are looking for a mentor. The starting point is to determine what your end goal is. Do you have a challenging individual at work you are struggling with? Are you looking to transition from one career to another? Do you feel your life is at a stand-still? Perhaps you just have no clue! It is ok, the first step is realizing you need help.
Finding a mentor may be easier to do than you think. Identify what it is you are looking to achieve such as becoming a better leader, transitioning to a new career, thrive in life, and so on.
Then, look for someone who:
If you don't know what you need just yet, look for a life coach. They will be able to help identify where and how to kick-start your journey. Start by finding someone you trust who has used a life coach. If you don’t know anyone who has, then do a simple internet search. You may need to try a few before you find the perfect fit, but there will be one, just keep looking.
Another thing to remember is you may have a mentor or coach sitting right next to you. Do you have a good manager at work you admire? How about a parent or relative? Neighbor? Look around, the person you need may be closer than you think.
Until next week…
Jared W. Snow
Shameless plug – we offer coaching and mentor services if you are interested. Just reach out and let us know how we can help.