LEADERSHIP | How to Stop Quietly Firing Your Employee, Part 1

publication date: Oct 27, 2022
author/source: Kathy Archer

Have you been hearing about quiet firing and worried that perhaps you've been doing that? Are you feeling condemned for quietly trying to get rid of your employee? Or worse, do you worry that maybe you are not leading with integrity?

Let's be honest. Most of us have had employees we would like to get rid of for being incompetent, not pulling their weight or causing conflict on the team. We know our job would be easier without them!

I wished my employee would quit!

I was certainly there. “Sandy” caused me more grief than I could've imagined.

• I dreamed of her leaving.
• I planned how much better my workdays would be when she was gone.
• I secretly hoped that by making things slightly difficult for her, she would just leave on her own.

And eventually, she did.

But I felt something not quite right about how that happened. It felt wrong but I didn't know what else to do.

In truth, I did the best I could at that time with my skillset and the inner work I'd yet to begin.

Do you have an employee you wish would leave?

Maybe you are there too. You've advanced from the front line into a leadership position and you honestly don't know how to deal with a challenging employee. Adding to your frustration is that you don't know where to turn for help.

You may have received basic training for how to do your job:

• the board meets monthly
• here's a policy manual
• you'll need to do annual performance reviews

But, has anyone taught you,

• how to deal with difficult people?
• how to address poor performance?
• how to deal with your perfectionism?
• how to deal with your people-pleasing tendencies?
• how to make decisions when the answer is not clear?
• how to manage the emotions involved in a conflict situation?

These are the "soft" or human skills required for successful leadership, and most of us are never taught them. But without them, we are left fumbling when an employee isn't measuring up.

Without human skills, we often struggle

First, we try to ignore it, thinking maybe it will go away.

Then, fearing we'll upset someone, we neglect to deal with poor performance. But, of course, when things are not dealt with, they fester and build.

Now, we have an even bigger decision about dealing with the employee's behaviour, performance or team relationships.

Yet, if we didn't know how to deal with it when it was a little problem, what makes us think we can deal with it any differently now that it's snowballed?

We lose hope

What tends to happen for many of us, myself included, is we feel discouraged. The situation seems impossible, irreparable and, yes, hopeless. So, it seems easier to give up on the employee and nudge them out the door.

But here's the thing.

Your job as a leader is to grow people. If you can't courageously, and with dignity, let an employee go, then it's time to stop quietly firing them and start growing them.

How do you stop quietly firing your employee?

You activate hope. Hope is a character trait that some of us have innately, while others have to work harder to execute.
Understanding true hope as a character trait

Hope is not blind optimism. It's not pollyannaish, either. When you strengthen the character trait of hope, you develop three components:

1. a belief that tomorrow will be better than today
2. a sense of agency that you can make that happen
3. the development of pathways to overcome obstacles

When you're stuck, you can't see an employee's potential. You don't believe you can create change, so you don't develop the pathways. And so, instead of tomorrow being better than today, it worsens. The way to change that is to become hopeful with a plan.

Create a sense of hope, and you will lead with integrity and quietly create a team of engaged employees.

Next Week: Diving into hope through the lens of dealing with a problematic employee.

Leadership Development Coach and author Kathy Archer provides ongoing training to grow women leaders in Canada's Non-Profit Organizations. Kathy's membership site, The Training Library, offers affordable, relevant, and practical monthly content to keep leaders engaged and excited, expanding their leadership capacity and deepening their personal growth.

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