Groom Them or Broom Them? How Leaders Can Decide
You have an employee who is not performing up to standards. Now you have a decision to make, whether or not to let them go.
This decision point tends to be a watershed moment for the leader as much, and perhaps more so, than for the employee in question.
When a situation like this arises, the leader does not have a default binary “Should they stay or should they go?” choice, but a different choice that can transform a culture and ensure your leadership – and the future of the employee – pays greater dividends all around.
That choice should be:
Decide To Groom Them Before You Broom Them.
If you were to search for the top reasons for employee turnover you will find every study points to one of these reasons in their list:
- Lack of Growth Opportunities
- No Talent Development
- No Vision
- No Connection to the Culture
- Employees Feel Stuck
- No Enough or Proper Training
Employee turnover is not just voluntary, initiated by the staff member. Involuntary reasons such as lay offs and especially termination define what turnover consists of as well. This means as leaders we cannot turn a blind eye to either one of these, because how we train and provide deeper meaning to our people impacts whether staff leave on their terms, or on other terms.
When a leader is faced with the decision to fire someone, they should ask questions along these lines to themselves first:
- Did we give the employee consistent view of the vision of the company?
- Have we connected as an organization to the individual, making them feel valued?
- Have we listened to their voice, and taking their feedback for us to improve?
- Did we show them everything they need to do their job?
- Did we understand their individual learning needs, and not just try to move them up the productivity chart when their learning curve was slower?
- Are the tools they need to accomplish their job working?
- Are the systems they use too complex?
- Do other employees complain about the same issues this person seems to be struggling with?
- Are they willing to learn and are committed to our culture?
- Did we just train them once and assume full competence?
- Did we continue training and development every day to ensure they – and all staff – continue to improve at their jobs?
Many years ago I had a team of supervisors approach me that a certain individual was not performing to standards after 5 weeks on the job. They suggested that I look to let her go.
My response to them were the following questions:
- “Did you show her everything she needs to do her job?” (Their answer – “yes we did”)
- “Did you truly show her EVERYTHING?” (Their new answer – “well, not really”)
- “Did you see if she needed help on anything you showed her? Did you spend extra time after her initial onboarding to help her understand everything?” (Answer – “no, not really”)
- “Do you think she learns slower than others?” (They replied – “yes”)
- “What are her best traits?” (They said “pleasant, punctual, clean, doesn’t stand around”)
- “Is she willing to learn or does she give you attitude?” (Their answer – “she listens well and seems eager”)
By this time they got what I was saying. they agreed to double down on her training, give her some time to learn, and keep pouring attention into her development.
4 weeks later the supervisor team came back to me and told me what a great job this employee was doing, and that she is starting to stand out as one of the better employees.
I then replied “And we were ready to let her go. What did we learn?” They learned that it was better to ensure we groomed our team before we decided to broom them out.
There are far more times people leave due to our failings as leaders than we realize. Grooming your people must take priority to ensure the role is understood, executed, and aligned with your culture.
The resulting outcomes speak for themselves. If an employee needs to leave involuntarily, then we know we did everything on our end to provide necessary training and can be protected in that decision. If they leave voluntarily, then most likely it’s because they found a great opportunity and are leaving a good culture and role for a better fit for them.
And if they don’t leave but stay with your organization you have benefited by becoming an employer of choice and are giving your people those things they need and want in the workplace.
Groom before you think to broom.