Wendy’s previous post about employer entitlement got me thinking about a related issue, employer responsibility.
The behavior and reaction described in her post is all too common and, as bad as it is, the related issue is just as unacceptable (maybe even more so). What I’m talking about is allowing employees who are allowed to hang around too long when they are clearly no longer fit to work at the company.
I have spent my career in the independent agency industry so perhaps we aren’t as unique as I think. However, based on my experience, agencies are absolutely horrible at making the tough employment decisions. We just hold on way too long.
I think it’s largely because, as a small business, we are so personally connected to our employees. We tolerate poor performance out of a sense of obligation to the employee. While that is admirable to a point, all too often it is carried to an extreme.
The first obligation (responsibility) has to be to keeping the organization healthy, and healthy requires that everyone on the team contribute at a high level. If, as an employer, you aren’t taking care of the organization, it is only a matter of time before you won’t be able to take care of the individuals.
Don’t get me wrong, you also have a responsibility to every individual on the team, a responsibility that aligns with keeping the organization healthy.
- You have a responsibility to communicate the direction of the company.
- You have a responsibility to be very clear as to what expectations you have for every individual to contribute.
- You have a responsibility to provide the training, coaching, and resources to allow them to contribute successfully.
- You have a responsibility to provide regular and meaningful feedback to their performance.
- And, when you have an individual who isn’t willing or able to contribute to the highest company standard, you have a final responsibility to the organization (and to the individual) to find that person another position or to terminate his/her employment.
It should always be difficult to fire someone. If it isn’t, you waited too long.
The other employees should always be a little surprised when someone is let go. If they aren’t, you waited too long.
You should never be in position to badmouth an employee who quit as Wendy described in her post. If you are, you waited too long.
When you wait too long, not only do you allow poor performance to slow you down, you damage your own credibility with those whom you are charged to lead. I promise you, they’re watching and waiting for you to perform your job the way it’s supposed to be performed.
Photo by hobvias sudoneighm.