Finding a Fit for all Employees

Don’t be quick to fire. A skilled leader will spotlight strengths, not give up. 

You’ve brought a new employee into your organization with a lot of expectations for success. Within a few months you, or perhaps others in your organization, feel the expectations for that hire are not being met. Ask yourself, what is the margin of error when someone doesn’t work out as intended?  Do you cut bait and move on? Or, do you evaluate all of the dynamics that come into play? For example, do you take into account this person’s strengths, or are you only focused on what’s not working? Are you supporting, as an organization, what they do well? Before you cast them out, can you cast them in a better role?  

Too often the resolution zeros in on the individual as the problem, rather than evaluating all of the dynamics in play.

You have brought a person into your organization and a great deal of time, energy, and money went into the hire search and onboarding process. Consider if there is value in keeping the employee instead of starting over from scratch. Admittedly, sometimes it is right to let a problematic employee go early. But do take a step back and really try and understand whether you are giving the employee a fair chance, or are looking to justify your frustration, or to appear a decisive leader. 

A hire fast, fire fast approach may seem decisive and strong. But is it shrewd? Will it get you the teams you need in the long run? 

So, how can leadership better navigate this issue when it arises?

Consider soliciting different perspectives at different levels in a company. You may be surprised what you learn about the value each person brings, in specific ways. One person could be a great mentor, another super resourceful. You might unravel some interpersonal dynamics or find out the person you thought was your star player is just really good at just kissing up and kicking down.

In science, we use a ‘control’ for experiments to eliminate one’s own bias. Maybe a good way to evaluate the situation would be to shift the person onto another account with a divergent group. Or maybe switch roles, and try a known performer to see how they do in the same situation. 

Also consider the importance of an employees’ trust in leadership. You may garner more loyalty from your entire team if they see you give support to others. Also, it may then serve to ask others in the organization to put their time and efforts into a challenging brand or client. 

By Sasha Martens