“What took you so long?”
That was one of the questions I got after I let one of my cofounders go. I’d been thinking about letting “Randy” go for a couple of months before I finally pulled the trigger.
Then, of course, after I fired Randy, a lot of people in the company said, “We’d known for a while that he needed to go.”
You, the CEO, are usually the last person that realizes that an underperforming employee needs to go.
I’ve seen this play out over and over again as a CEO. And even though I thought I acted quickly, the team always knew the truth before I did.
There are several reasons why CEOs are too slow to fire people:
A. Lack of visibility.
One of the challenges of running a company is the validity of the information you are receiving. There’s always a filter of some sort, and, sometimes, that filter results in delayed decision making.
You know you need to fire someone, but you’re afraid of what will happen if you do fire the person. How will the rest of team react? What about the impact on development schedules or customers?
So you hold on to the employee, hoping that things will get better. The problem is they never do.
C. You want to give them one more chance.
This is similar to fear, but you somehow or other believe that you can change the employee’s behavior. And, of course, nothing changes, except you’ve lost valuable time.
D. You just hate firing people.
One the one hand, this is a very admirable trait. You should hate firing people (I do) because you are messing with someone’s life.
On the other hand, you can’t be so against firing people that you don’t take action. You have a responsibility to the rest of the company to let the poor performers and the malcontents go.
If you don’t let these poor performers go, then you’re going to lose your really good people.
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