The art of firing
It is the hardest decision to make as a senior executive – sacking one of your leadership team.
And for that reason, many executives are slow to take the necessary action. This dithering stance has the potential to impact on the wider business. In manufacturing, this could mean production delays or poor sales resulting in lost contracts and a damaged reputation. This is why senior executives need to take decisive action and not procrastinate.
Executives are expected to make those difficult decisions for the benefit of the business – it is what they earn their money for, but nothing gives an executive more of a headache than firing a member of the leadership team.
The implications are incredibly significant, which is why so many executives do not bite the bullet and are always prepared to give offer ‘one more chance’.
By contrast, senior executives have fewer reservations when it comes to making big decisions on investment or contracts, but when it comes to ditching poor performing leaders, there are a persistent set of behaviours that prolong the inevitable.
Here are five behaviours that inflict senior executives.
A desire to fix. What senior executive truly wants to send one of their leadership team packing? Most will look for ways to enable those under their wing the opportunity to put it right. There will be offers of mentoring or coaching to improve performance. In time, this becomes a personal mission and highlights an inability to recognise the weaknesses of the employee.
Fear. Removing a leader is often perceived as damaging their career as it is a long way down from the top. This fear, coupled with guilt, delays many executives from making that decision. If you find yourself in this position, one option is to discuss other roles within the organisation for which they may be better suited.
Ego. If you hired them, it’s harder to fire them. Your leadership skills and judgement are on the line and making a bad hire impacts on your reputation. However, being able to recognise the mistake and remaining objective is key to strong leadership. Don’t be ruled by your ego.
Public image. A sacking will inevitably lead to conjecture and speculation – both internally and externally. How you deal with that as a senior executive is key and can actually enhance your credibility. If there are concerns in your team, assure them and explain that it is for the wider interests of the business. Externally, the message should be all about the company’s forward-looking intentions.
No one is indispensable. You may believe that the departure could have wider repercussions on your team. It is a very common trait, especially if the person you fired does deliver results but has a detrimental effect on the team. Change happens and customers and employees understand that. Look at the potential positives rather than the negatives in making the decision to sack one of your leadership team.
Being a strong a decisive senior executive, taking responsibility to remove underperforming leaders bolsters the company. It is a far from negative action, but one that affirms your position.
If you are looking for a senior executive role, talk to us.