December 20, 2023

Is it time to let them go?

I’m not one of those people that re-read books. I read a book, get what I can from it, and move on.

I’ve just always felt like there are sooo many books to read, I’ve just never prioritized reading the same book multiple times.

Do I reference books I’ve read? Absolutely.

But do I sit down and read them cover to cover again? Hardly ever.

Well, the other day, a book on my shelf caught my eye. “The Leader You Want to Be” by Amy Jen Su. I first read it in 2019, and remember thinking at the time that it was a really great read. But when I saw it on my shelf, I couldn’t remember what the takeaways were, so I decided to re-read it. And while I’m just a little more halfway through right now, I can assure you that this was a great decision for me.

Now, this is not a super well-known book or one that topped multiple bestseller lists, but it was recommended to me through a mutual friend of the author. And as I’m re-reading it, I’m reminded of why I thought it was so good the first time.

My main point here for you today is in this paragraph:

“Leadership does require that we sometimes give tough performance reviews, help a low performer get back on track, or occasionally, let someone go. With compassionate leadership, remember to make the tough “what” decisions and preserve your integrity and the other person’s dignity in “how” you execute those decisions. When I ask leaders to reflect on the one thing they would have done differently from the previous year, the answer I most often hear is they wish they’d made a tough people decision sooner or faster - they wished they’d trusted their instincts that someone was wrong for the job or just not going to get there rather than letting it drag out.”

Connecting this to last week’s topic on role clarity and development, I think that you can do BOTH of those things really well and still have a member of your team who isn’t getting it.

Or they used to get it but their role evolved and they're no longer a good fit. And sometimes, our commitment to them or unwillingness to give up on them can hurt both you and them, and ultimately your business.

As managers and business owners (and I have conversations with lots of business owners who say these same things ALL THE TIME), we can get caught up in thinking it’s our fault.

  • We haven’t been clear enough in the expectations
  • We haven’t trained them well enough
  • We didn’t give them a complete checklist
  • We didn’t account for all the million different scenarios they may face

I’m here to tell you that it’s not always your fault. Sometimes, and probably a lot of the time, you have trained them well enough. They do know what is expected of them and why. They do understand your vision. They are a great person. But sometimes they just aren’t a great person for the job.

And that’s ok.

There is a perfect role out there for them where they can excel and be fulfilled.
And there’s a perfect person out there that can fill the role you have and excel.

Be a compassionate leader, and a good decision maker and do what’s best for you, the business and the person who isn’t a good fit.

Remember, it isn’t fair to anyone to let a person languish in a role that they aren’t capable of or is no longer suited for them.

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