In the peak of the GFC I did some work coaching people who had been made redundant. It was a strange scenario. They would be told the news in one room and then be introduced to me in the next room. There, I would tell them about the option of doing some coaching/support sessions which the company would pay for. As people came in to chat, they often looked like they had been hit by a truck or had swallowed cement. Even when people know it’s coming, to be made redundant or be fired is a very difficult thing to process.
No matter what they are told about “not taking it personally” they are the person being told and the decision will impact their lives. Here are some suggestions if it’s you on the receiving end of this news.
Be prepared for a roller coaster ride
Leave with dignity
Be careful how and who you tell
Use it as a chance to refocus
Prepare for the next step
“ Being fired was the best luck of my life. It made me stop and reflect. It was the birth of my life as a writer” Jose Saramago
One of the most difficult aspects of being a leader is having to move someone on. (fire, sack, let go). Even when the decision is obvious, it is a difficult thing to ask someone to leave, as it impacts not only them but their families and possibly has consequences for their future. This process can cause the leader sleepless nights and a lot of emotional suffering.
Staff who we can’t afford to have.
Sometimes we have to let quality people go simply because the organisation doesn’t have the resources to continue to employ them. Maybe times have changed or too many people were put on in the first place.
Staff who are doing the wrong thing.
Sometimes staff either totally breach ethical or organisational rules or consistently show attitudes and actions which abuse, undermine or harass others. As a leader, your responsibility is to build a strong team. Just one person doing the wrong thing consistently can significantly change the mood and effectiveness of the team.
Staff who are consistently underperforming
This is more difficult as the person may be likeable but is not pulling their weight or not able to do the work effectively. If nothing is done about this, others in the team may end up carrying a heavier workload, become discouraged and see that the leader is not taking performance issues seriously. People are paid to do a job and if they can’t, then they shouldn’t be in the job.
Some things to check before asking someone to leave
This is one of the most difficult questions I have asked; Is there someone in your team or organisation that should be asked to move on?
“Executives owe it to the organization and to their fellow workers not to tolerate non performing individuals in important jobs” Peter Drucker
One of the most crucial elements of leadership is found in staff recruitment. When interviewing possible job candidates it would be great to have a crystal ball to show us exactly who would be the best person in the long term to fulfill the role and do a great job. This would save us a lot of money, stress and heartache which comes from choosing the wrong people. There is no crystal ball, but here are some tips on staff selection.
Looking for the right person
Interviewing and selecting the right person
Character Are they a person who demonstrates integrity?
Have you ever made a mistake in a staff appointment? What lessons did you learn from this?
What is the next staff appointment that needs to be made? How will you prepare for this?
“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not stategies”
Another important leadership word is “WHEN”. Timing is such a crucial part of effective leadership. There are so many important timing questions in leadership like when to:
Timing may not be everything but it is certainly very important. Leaders need the wisdom to read the times so that they can make the right decisions at the right time. Some will do this intuitively while many will need to do their research and listen to wise advice from others.
Leaders will also benefit by looking at how their personality influences decision making. Some will tend to jump in impatiently while others will miss the bus as they are taking too much time to think and analyse.
John Maxwell, in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, suggests four possible timing scenarios and their possible consequences.
How is your timing in decision making and taking action?
What can you do to make more timely decisions?
“The two most important requirements for success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.”
To be effective, leaders and teams need to be very clear about what they are trying to achieve and why is this important. So let’s look at these two words and how they can affect your team’s performance.
Strong teams have a well thought through purpose and aim. The question of what the team exists for and hopes to achieve is asked, researched and fought over until it is clear and owned. If teams are unclear about what they are supposed to be doing, they will:
Why say why?
Purpose or vision statements don’t really connect to people or make a significant difference until the team “buys in” on the WHY? Why are we doing this? Why is this important? Why are we doing it this way? Effective leaders are keen to ask the question “why?” about their actions and what the team is involved in. When leaders ask “why”, they:
It is really important for leaders to resist the temptation for quick fixes and decision making on the run. Time invested in planning days away from the office can help the team to look at the “bigger picture” questions. This will pay huge dividends in the long term.
My What and Why in sending out “leadership and life”
The Why. I believe that good leadership can make the world a better place and that if I can help leaders to grow, even in the smallest way then the flow-on effect could be significant in their lives and in the teams, and organisations that they lead.
Also, from time to time, I like to share thoughts about spirituality and world views as these discussions can be lost in the busyness of business and yet they merit our attention, discussion and debate. For example, do you know the What and Why of Easter?
“I keep six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew. Their names are what and why, and when and how and where and who.”
How disappointing is it when we help someone, or give them something, and they don’t acknowledge it or say thanks? We don’t expect a parade in our honour, but just a smile and a couple of simple words would make a huge difference. Saying “thanks” makes a difference.
In leadership it is vital to express our thanks to those around us. Saying “thanks”:
Saying “thanks” privately and publically
People are affirmed when we take a few moments to say thanks to them. Sometimes it is appropriate to do this in front of the whole team. Don’t wait until its their farewell speech to say thanks and words of appreciation. Just remember to try to be fair when saying thanks publically and mention all who were involved.
A card, email or note is a great way to say thanks. Notes will have more impact if:
Go on, say it or write it today
” Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone”
Leaders can do the wrong thing from time to time; whether it’s losing their cool with team members, being too harsh in their evaluations, not following up on promises, breaking a confidence, etc.
Sadly, not all leaders own up, take responsibility and say that they are sorry. Some leaders never say this word, perhaps out of:
Other leaders only say sorry when confronted with something which brings a serious cloud over their authenticity.
Some leaders say sorry too much and for everything. BTW, I am sorry about saying sorry too much… and I am sorry that I just wrote that!
Effective leaders will step up and ask for forgiveness when they need to.
Some tips on saying sorry
Is there someone who you should be saying “Sorry” to?
What is holding you back?
“do not ruin an apology with an excuse” Kimberly Johnson