Hiring Handbook: Letting People Go

Last week, I had the chance to hear Dominic Barton speak to a business audience at the Rotman School of Business.  He was the long standing Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company.  This guy knows a thing or two about talent.  In fact, he has just published his fourth book, called Talent Wins.

He made it his mission to interview CEO’s to learn about the things that were critical to them.  One of the major themes that emerged was people. Looking back, CEO’s wished they had spent as much time worrying about their people as they had worrying about their budgets.

In fact, one of the top statements was “I should have let people go sooner.”

You could have tipped me over with a feather……Let people go sooner?  That’s quite a thing to say.

But he makes a good point. If you think back to your stellar performers, you knew who they were right away.  They just seemed to “get” everything.

Others seemed to take longer.  Maybe you were nervous in the first month, but after that, they were up to speed and by six months in, you had forgotten that you were ever concerned.

Then there is the group that never gets up to speed.  There is always a cloud of concern creeping around their interactions.  You spend more time with them, or put them on some kind of improvement plan.  Maybe you even get them a coach.

If those investments don’t pay immediate benefits, then you have some decisions to make and the sooner you make them, the sooner you can get productive again.

Take a look at the strengths that the person demonstrates.  Is there anywhere else in the organization where they might be better suited?  If not, then let them go.  Chances are, they know it is not working out and consciously or unconsciously, it is bugging them too.

Do a confidential search to find a replacement (with more accurate assessment criteria) and then make sure you provide for a gracious exit.  You will all be better off for it.

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