When people are hired and they don’t work out as good employees they have to go or they will be a drag on the company. What happens when people are allowed to come into the country and they do not assimilate, they cost more than they produce, and they do not want to obey the rules and regulations. In other words they are a drag on the country if they are allowed to stay. With this in mind this tough article TAKE OUT THE TRASH from the, Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership, takes on special significance.
This email is only for folks who are in a position of leadership and/or responsibility, or intend to be in such a position one day.
If you remember my essay on Leadership, “Using People,” you’ll recall that in both the Training and Acting stage, you may be required to remove someone from a position of responsibility or leadership.
In fact, removing people is an essential task of leadership.
But remember, these will often be good folks — volunteers, true believers… even friends or family.
My provocative subject line “Take out the trash” was designed, of course, to attract your attention. But it also reinforces a point: Trash is often tasty food that has rotted, or worn-out products that no longer perform. Trash was once valuable.
So if you think it is easy, or you enjoy removing people, you may not be suited for leadership yourself.
Now, let us review why to remove folks, when to remove them and how to remove them.
Does the Trash Begin to Smell Bad?
OK, so why should people be removed?
Well, let me track my essay, “Using People.”
In the Training stage, there are three reasons:
- You trained them, tested them, they completely failed the test and refuse to not re-train and re-test. This is about as easy as it gets, as they add obstinacy to failure.
- You trained them, tested them, they completely failed the test and after re-training and re-testing, they failed again. This is harder, as the person has demonstrated a willing spirit, but is, simply put, incompetent. This will sting, especially if the person wants to continue to try, but a leader must recognize when further effort distracts himself or others from the work at hand. Sometimes the person will graciously accept the situation; other times, they will stomp off in a huff.
- You trained them, tested them, they only partly succeeded and cannot or will not train out their weaknesses. Now you make a calculation: Is the value worth the cost? If it is not, then you must remove the person. And the person will likely be offended.
In the Acting stage, there is only one reason: They have failed and cannot be restored. This is the hardest person to remove, because this is a sub-leader or peer whom you know and trust.
As I wrote in “Using People:”
Confrontation, stress, doubt, the fog of “war,” deceit, pushback, buy-offs, sickness, emotion, ambition, friends, family, enemies, life and death… these occur for each of us.
And they change us.
Removing such a person may be painful. You may lose a friend. You may create an enemy.
How Bad Does the Trash Smell?
The answer to when to remove someone often requires two things not usually found together: An honest assessment of the situation and of your own emotional habits.
You may be wondering about the latter point.
You should be.
You see, most folks “find” the answer that suits their habits. If you are like me, impatient and prone to decisiveness, the answer is, “Get rid of them now, before x, y and z happen.” If you are more of the get-along type, you usually find a reason to wait “until the time is right.”
Start by recognizing the answer that you, emotionally, will want to pick, and THEN fight it to honestly analyze the situation.
What is the cost of removing the person right away?
What is the benefit?
What is the benefit of waiting to remove them?
What is the cost?
And please note, the costs and benefits are not just what will happen if they stay/go, it is what will NOT happen; e.g. if you leave someone in leadership who has stopped doing their job, you prevent someone else from moving up and proving he can/will do it.
More often than not — especially in volunteer organizations (but surprisingly often in paid organizations) — people are kept in positions far longer than they should be. Most leaders (managers or bosses) do not want the confrontation of firing/failing someone, and they fear the unknown. It is simply “safer” to take no action. This is, of course, not leadership.
Do I Have to Take the Trash All the Way to the Curb?
Now, we get to how to remove people.
There are probably all kinds of books and articles on this from every perspective imaginable — Christian, psychological, legal — and some may apply better than others.
My answer is based upon a variable: What is your larger purpose?
For example, someone who was an effective organizer of door-to-door canvassing in an exciting campaign (which, by definition, had a clear purpose, defined goals and certain deadlines) may be a disaster as part of your now ongoing local activist group. Your goal is to remove him from the activist group without, if possible, burning the relationship so badly you cannot work together in a future campaign. It may not be possible, but you should try. Thus, gentleness and graciousness may help.
For another example, a person may turn out to be poison; that is, embittered or intolerant to the point of destroying the value of anyone with whom they work. Such a person must be cut off entirely — every contact and communication — as he will exploit any channel to create more harm.
But the most important thing to remember is that if you have wisely decided as a leader to remove someone, then you must do it, do it all the way and do it in a clear manner that does not prolong the hurt or the distraction.
It is not fun work.
But it is necessary.
Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership
P.S. A responsibility of leadership is removing people who are unable to do the work or are harmful to the project. If you think it is easy or fun, you are mistaken. It is hard. And it should be unpleasant most of the time. But it is necessary at times. I hope the above essay is helpful to you in such a situation.