I’ll admit it – I have trouble firing people. Do you know when to fire an employee? Even if you have good business notions, having the wrong employees will sink your ship fast.
Of course, you don’t have to have employees in order to be bad at this. You might have a friend you need to “fire,” a boss you need to “graduate,” or a doctor you need to say “sayonara” to. If something inside tells you to move on but you stay with these people anyway, join my club.
Now, some folks are really good at this, and to be honest I envy them.
But if you share my frustration in this area, I’d love you to tell me why you think it’s so hard.
My guess is that it stems from our need to have others love or like us. We don’t like it when someone thinks poorly of us – even if they are the ones who behaved poorly.
In my small business, I have two fantastic people who work for me so I don’t really have a problem there. But I struggle with this in other areas of my life, and it costs me too much money and time. How about you?
Besides the character defects I mentioned above, other factors that make firing people difficult is the uncertainty I have towards my own behavior. Did I clearly explain my definition of success? Were my expectations fair? Did I provide the resources and time required?
You can drive yourself crazy asking all these questions – and that’s exactly what I was doing yesterday. I was complaining to a friend of mine about a contractor I hired. I told my friend that I wasn’t “feeling the love” from this person. When people learn how to become a contractor, do they also take a class on communication? I doubt it.
My friend reminded me that it wasn’t my contractor’s job to make me “feel the love.” It was the contractor’s job to get the job done. We went through the situation and he suggested a format I could use to make the decision about keeping this contractor or not.
Here’s what he suggested:
1. List what I wanted.
He suggested that I describe what the relationship would look like in a dream world. What would the contractor do? When? How would he respond to me?
I did what my buddy suggested. I found that over and above the job requirements, I wanted my contractor to care about my needs as much as I do. I wanted my contractor to treat me like a friend.
2. List what I needed.
At first, I thought that my needs and wants were the same but I quickly learned that it wasn’t the case. While I wanted everything to get done immediately, I really only needed a clear schedule of when things would be completed and for the contractor to deliver on that schedule. While I thought I needed him to like me and treat me like a friend, I realized this was only a want. Differentiating between needs and wants was a very helpful exercise in clarifying my relationship with my contractor.
3. Decide if the frustration I was feeling was based on my needs or wants.
My pal suggested that if I get angry when my wants aren’t being met – that’s my problem.
At first it hurt to hear that, but when I thought about it, I realized he was right. My wants can be unreasonable. In fact, they might be impossible for anyone to fulfill on a consistent basis.
On the other hand, I have a perfect right to have my needs met. If I communicate them clearly, if they are fair, if the contractor has the resources and commits to fulfilling my needs, I have a reasonable basis to expect satisfaction.
Breaking down the conflict this way was really helpful for me. It helped separate the emotions from the logic. It helped me understand where I could find the solution.
I decided to write a note to my contractor telling him what my needs and wants were. I will take responsibility for my wants, but once he agrees to take responsibility for my needs, he has to deliver on a timely basis. And if he can’t, I’ll say goodbye.
Do you think this is a good process? What would you change? Have you struggled with this issue?