Business turnaround is a difficult time for all involved. Knowing how to fire someone without feeling guilty is a difficult yet necessary thing. It’s commonly known and accepted that during a business turnaround, one of the quickest ways to reduce costs is to reduce your human capital costs. That’s just a fancy way of saying, ”get rid of people.” I know some of you will be squirming in your seat right now. I know that a lot of people don’t like talking about this topic because there’s so much emotion attached to it.
But that’s the problem.
You have emotion attached to it.
Rather than emotion, it should be about perspective.
A Business Turnaround Must Serve The Needs Of The Many, Not The Few
Let’s say as an example, your business employs 100 people.
Your Finance department and Leadership Team have identified 10 people for you to exit out of the business.
Is it better for you to temporarily rock 10 people’s lives or 100?
Think about that for a second.
Are you serving the needs of the 10 or the 100?
Reducing human capital costs is necessary for a business to survive.
In this blog post, I want to get you to a place where you’ve considered all the right things, you’ve chosen the right people and you can sleep easy at night. Because if you can’t sleep easy at night, then you’ve made the wrong decision.
So, let’s dive straight into how to fire someone without feeling guilty.
How to Fire Someone: Step 1 – Take the Emotion out of it
As I’ve said above, are you serving the needs of the few or the many? For the business to survive you need to serve the many. If you are a people-pleaser then you shouldn’t be in business. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true.
Again, some of you are reading that quote and getting emotional. Stop getting emotional! You can’t get emotional! You need to serve the needs of the many.
Do you want to save the business or your friends?
It’s better for a few families to temporarily suffer than 100 people.
Take the emotion out of your decision-making. Toughen up – it’s going to be rocky for a while.
How to Fire Someone: Step 2 – Identify The Weakest Performers
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT HR advice. You must seek professional HR advice when conducting this sort of exercise.
During a business turnaround, you need your best performers. End of. There is no time for time-wasters, low performers and deadwood.
See this as an opportunity to do a bit of spring cleaning and get to a place where your remaining staff are in fact, the highest performers.
Seek advice from your HR department. Ask them for historic records regarding performance, time-keeping, sickness records, complaints etc.
Build a holistic, 360-degree picture of these potential candidates.
By building a holistic picture of these candidates, you will be able to make an informed decision.
Never make decisions with tunnel vision.
You might be able to make some quick fixes with certain people and get them up to a decent performance (and you might not need to fire them!)
Consider The Impact Of Letting Them Go
I’ve been in situations where senior management was a bit too trigger-happy and got rid of a bunch of people quickly because they wanted to impress the CEO. However, they quickly realised that there was no one to actually fulfil the operations.
Did you read that quote? Re-read it. Absorb the truth of that statement.
Everything you do will have some sort of impact. It might not be straight away. It might be months or even years down the line.
The biggest impact you have to always consider is, ”If I exit this member of staff, will the department/function still run?”
How to Fire Someone: Step 3 – Conduct Impact Analysis
I would encourage you and your team to set up a simple document called the “Impact Register”.
This document is more of a thinking tool to make sure you consider all the possible positives and negatives of an action. Here’s an example of a simple Impact Register:
|EXIT John||£4,000 monthly saving||He’s the only one who knows how to do [X]. Performance has been weak over the last quarter.||Retain but place on a PIP|
|EXIT Jane||£2,500 monthly saving. Will remove the negative and bad attitude.||None||Proceed. Fail probation|
There you have it – how to fire someone without feeling guilty. If you follow the above steps, you should be able to exit people from the business and sleep easy at night. I’m not saying this exercise won’t get you down. It’s not nice to fire people. But what I’m saying is that you will have made all the right considerations, flushed out the bottom performers and you’ll be left with a strong team to help you with your business turnaround.
- Ask your senior management team to identify the bottom performers in their department
- Ask your HR department to verify this with their records
- Create an Impact Register
- With your senior management team and HR, fill in the Impact Register
- Seek HR advice about the most appropriate way to exit people from the business