“Poised for Success”
by Chris Reinhardt, feedlot specialist
Letting people go is probably every manager’s least favorite part of their job, including an OSHA inspection or an IRS audit. But it is a part of management of people and of teams; not every person will work out.
There are two (very) broad reasons for the person “not working out”: (1) the person did not live up to the expectations they had committed to in the categories of work ethic, intellect, or integrity; or (2) the person did not have the skill set required to do the job that was asked of them.
Any time a person does not fulfill the expectations of management, a good portion of the blame for that failure should be borne by the manager. However, if the person is let go for above reason (1), a portion of the blame should fall on the manager for not identifying the deficiencies during the interview process but a portion also falls on the person being let go due to not living up to the expectations of the job as communicated upon initiation of the hiring process. If the person is let go for reason (2), then there is a different cause.
We often quote or paraphrase the message of the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins when we say, “Let’s get the right people on the bus and let them drive us to greatness.” And this often means finding good, intelligent, ambitious, talented, hard-working people and finding them a home in our organization. However, this can on occasion backfire. If the new hire doesn’t perfectly fit the skill set needed for the open position, we must rapidly and adequately train them for the position, and we must install a plan to get that person into the best possible position for success, both of the individual and of the organization. Unfortunately, organizations which are inflexible fail in this latter element.
Organizations often lose good people because they haven’t found a way to modify the needs of the organization to fit the unique skills and passions of the person, and the person either fails to deliver the necessities of the job or simply loses interest in the job and the organization and looks elsewhere for opportunities which more closely align with their abilities and interests. This is a failure of management at one or both of two stages in the process.
Either the manager needs to identify that the person, regardless of how talented, does not now and will not in the future fit the organization, or the manager needs to create space for the person to express their abilities to help the organization in other ways not expressly delineated in the open position job description. There is no option C.
In short, either pass on the quality person available in favor of someone with more suitable skills, or make the position match the skills available. Or you will have more unwanted turnover and need to start all over again.