Follow Your Instincts When Deciding To Terminate A Poor Performer

Escalation of commitment is the tendency for people to continue to support previously unsuccessful endeavors. With all the talent decisions leaders make, it is inevitable that some poor decisions will be made. Of course, the logical thing to do in these instances is to change that decision or try to reverse it. However, sometimes leaders feel compelled not only to stick with their personal decision, but also to further invest in that decision because they have made a commitment; never is this more apparent than with a hiring decision gone bad.

If your instincts, observations, and development efforts to date clearly indicate you made a mistake, fight the emotion to invest further time and energy in a direct report that is not going to work out.  We all make mistakes, that’s how we learn.  The key is understanding the mistake, cutting your losses, and fixing it.

When you have a poor performing direct report and you know they need to be let go, put together a specific 30 to 90 day performance plan.  Make sure your direct report understands they will be asked to leave if the plan is not achieved.  Hold them accountable to the performance plan and holding yourself accountable to following through on the dismissal, learn from your mistake, and move on.  Escalating your commitment and trying to make an unwilling or incompetent direct report better just makes the termination harder when your finally come to terms with it.

Empower yourself to overcome the natural tendency to unnecessarily work through a poor hire, and your team will be more successful.

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