Courageous Conversations: Firing Who You Hired
Cameron Hessian: (singing)
Rebecca Fleetwood Hessian: This is Write Your Own Story: Three Keys to Rise and Thrive in Life and Business. I'm your host, Rebecca Fleetwood Hessian. Hey, it's Rebecca. It's a beautiful day to be alive, don't you think? Today I want to talk to you, leaders, people who hire people, so managers, leaders, whatever we're calling it these days. There's this thing that I've been seeing and talking to others about that we need to start paying attention to, and that is this. When you hire someone, they're yours, and sometimes it's really difficult to see the reality of how that person is doing because we feel protective of them. We feel like if they don't make it, that's a reflection on you. Well, it is. But you know what's an even bigger reflection on you is when they're not performing and you are not paying attention, or you see it, but you don't want to acknowledge it and you're just hoping that nobody else notices because you don't want to admit that you are wrong. That's not helping anybody. Our role as a leader is to represent the best interests of the organization, and sometimes our decisions just don't work out. But the best thing that we can do when that happens is call it out. Acknowledge it. Your credibility as a leader goes up when you acknowledge something that's good for the organization. And sometimes that means removing somebody you brought in. I know. Nobody likes to do it. It sucks. But you know what's worse, is the people in the organization who are talking about the person that you hired who isn't working out, and they think that you're oblivious to it. That isn't good for your reputation as a leader. Of course, there's a whole course of action that takes place between, " I realize that this person isn't working out," and" They might need to leave." I'm not suggesting that. I'm suggesting that we need to be awake to the reality of the situation. And so a very simple way to remove some of our emotion and remove some of that conviction that we have for these people that we've hired is to take out a piece of paper and make two columns. One column is" What are the results that this person was hired to bring in?" And then under that, " What are the results that this person is actually bringing in?" There, you can see if there's a performance gap. In the other column, at the top you write, " What are the expectations of behavior for this team or this organization?" These are the cultural things, the values. How do we act around here? What do we expect from each other around here? And then at the bottom of that, you list what is the actual observable behaviors that you are seeing from this person. And that requires you to actually observe them and see them as everyone else sees them, not as the one that you chose. And so that means in meetings saying to yourself, " Okay, I'm going to observe this person as if I'm brand new, and I'm going to listen to the words that they use. I'm going to pay attention to the way that people talk about this person, and I'm not going to make excuses for them. I'm not going to be their PR agent, their marketing person. I'm not going to be the one that's always spinning the story to make it sound better than it is because I'm really trying to protect myself. I'm going to sit down and I'm going to say,'What's the real story?' Because as a leader of the organization, I need to have the company's best interest at heart." It sucks when people don't work out. It's expensive. It's emotional. It hits in the heart of businesses' human. It hits in the control measure optimized, and it hits in personal, emotional, and social. It sucks. But I tell you what, making kind and quick moves with people who aren't working out is the best thing that you can do for you and for them, because if we care about people, we want them to be in a role that they can be valuable, relevant, make an impact. And if it's not in the role they're in with us, then it's up to our sense of humanity to help them. And maybe it's good authentic feedback on what's not going well. Of course, you have that conversation. Of course, you try to help them perform to the best of their ability, but you can't do that unless you're paying attention to what's not working and then go and have the courageous conversation. I used to work for the Franklin Covey Organization, and I had the privilege of working with Dr. Steven R. Covey, God rest his soul, and one of the first quotes of his, even before I worked for the organization when I was just a fan of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, number one business book of all time still today, was the quote, " Care enough to give feedback." And the book was really, in its heyday, when it first came out, and when I was a pretty new manager, pretty new at leading entire office staff and regions and getting my leadership lessons, and that statement did more to influence my leadership than almost anything I can think of because when I would see that I needed to have a courageous conversation with someone about their performance and I was dreading it because emotional, it's not always comfortable, I would say to myself, " I'm going to have this conversation with this person because I care about them." And then I would do my best to use those two columns to craft the conversation so that it was specific, but they knew that I had spent the time to prepare for the conversation. In many situations, those tough conversations did more to increase the trust and relationship with those people than anything else because they knew I cared about them, and they knew I wanted them to be better and to feel that sense of value, relevance, and impact. We talked about VRI in another episode. In fact, I have had people thank me for firing them. I had forgotten about it until I started planning this episode and thinking through some of the stories and examples because these were people that were just never going to be a fit for the job or the culture or the situation. And because I took the time to say, " Here's the places this isn't working, and I want to support you and help you," they realized that I did care and I wanted them to be in a role where they could thrive. Being a manager and a leader, it's always been a challenge, but it's even more of a challenge coming out of 2020 in this evolution of burnout that we have been experiencing. I have clients and people say to me, " I'm afraid to push people right now because I'm afraid they'll leave." Ooh. Okay, I'm going to go here. I just had this conversation with a client that I'm preparing to do a keynote for this month, and I said, " Would you rather work on a winning team or a mediocre team or one that's just barely surviving?" Because when we don't inspire people and encourage them to give their best and set up an expectation that we want to win, we're not protecting them. We're saying, " Eh, average is okay. Economy is down. We should just tread water." Oh no, y'all. That sucks. Nobody gets up every day and can't wait to go tread water. What the hell? We have to paint the picture of an inspiring winnable game. Sure, you may have to adapt to relevant expectations, but we don't fall back and just say, " Eh, it's okay. I don't want to expect too much from you because I don't want you to leave." Ew. If you don't expect something from me, I'm leaving. That would be a reason that I would leave. And if you've got the kind of people on your team that don't want to win, hell, there's a whole different conversation. But it's up to us as leaders to show them what's possible with winning and how to win and support them so they can win. It's not pushing them to work more or be militant or controlling. What we want to do is inspire them to figure out what is the winnable game, and how can we work together to do that? We could have 150, 000 episodes on management and leadership. There's more information out there on management and leadership than you can ever get to in a lifetime. But let me suggest this to you. The amount of time that you invest getting to know the people, more than reading another book on leadership, more than taking another class on leadership, get to know the people that you serve, the customers and your team, and then do the things authentically that you know in your heart will help bring them together and increase trust. You already know. The key is, do you trust yourself enough to act on it? But you can't have those good gut feelings about what to do unless you really know the people that you're working with, and then you can sit with them, eyeball to eyeball and heartbeat to heartbeat and help them work through their challenges. That's what we need today. That's what we need today, for people to feel safe, to know that you care, know that you care enough to give them feedback, know that you care enough to inspire them and want them to win, know that you are willing to look past all the gloom and doom and say, " You know what, though? There are customers out there that need us to show up. While everybody else is bitching and moaning, why don't we show up and serve?" That's the good stuff. That's what I want for you, and I promise you that will feel far more rewarding as a leader and a manager than sitting around afraid to say anything because you don't want them to leave. Nobody's winning when that's happening. All right, ya'll. I'm so appreciative of this space that you show up to with me each week, and if it's your first time here, thank you for being here. I would love it if you would leave a review, subscribe. We're going to continue to talk about leadership things this year, and I think this year more than ever, it's time for us to really pay attention to that combination of business is human, personal, emotional, and social, as well as the control measure optimized. That's the sweet spot. All right, love you. Mean it.
Cameron Hessian: (singing)
Rebecca Fleetwood Hessian: Thanks for listening to this episode. I would love it if you would leave a rating and a review on Apple Podcast and then go to Wethrive. live. First thing you'll see is a place to drop your email and join the movement. I'll send you tools that you can use to thrive in life and business.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hessian: Hey,
Rebecca Fleetwood Hessian: y'all. Fun fact. If you liked the music for the podcast, that is actually my son, Cameron Hessian, and I would love it if you would go to Spotify and iTunes and follow him and download some of his other music. My personal favorite is TV Plant.
As leaders, we take pride in hiring wonderful people to add to our team, and when we decide to hire a person, we become protective over them and want them to succeed. But what if they aren't performing how they should be? What if we don't see that? Or what if we do, but we want to avoid acknowledging it? This is a challenging scenario, and today Rebecca shares how we can have these conversations and thrive in our roles as leaders by investing in our people and having tough but necessary conversations.
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