Powills: Firing People Sucks — But It’s Business
Powills: Firing People Sucks — But It’s Business

I don’t know if anyone has started out great at firing people.

The greatest leaders of the world probably carried a heavy heart the first time they had to let someone go. Of course, they wish, it could have been all business. But, unfortunately, there is always something personal in firing someon.....

I don’t know if anyone has started out great at firing people.

The greatest leaders of the world probably carried a heavy heart the first time they had to let someone go. Of course, they wish, it could have been all business. But, unfortunately, there is always something personal in firing someone — unless, of course, you are a hired firing gun from the outside.

The first time I fired someone, I didn’t.

It was one of the toughest days of my career. After weeks of agonizing over firing this person — they lied and caused issues for my agency, over and over again — I finally decided I would do it. I had had enough. I bottled up the courage (after talking with advisors, of course) walked into my office and asked them if I could talk with them for a moment.

It was 7:50 a.m.

While this person lied often, they were always first to the job (a great quality that I knew they could build on and learn from in the future). They were actually quite pleasant to work with. I enjoyed traveling with them. I enjoyed the way they interacted with the client. Had this person been a little older and experienced, they could have been great.

We walked up to my office. They shut the door and asked if they could talk first.

Was it an apology? Was it a plan to do better? Was it them telling me that they truly were a good person and they were ready to mature, grow-up and act the part?

No.

It was them telling me they were putting in their two weeks notice. They quit.

My facial expressions said, “Oh no, I am so sad.”

My mind said, “Hell yes.”

In business, I lost. In human, I won. It’s hard to differentiate the two. In business, it is my job, as CEO, to protect the business — to keep poison out, to maintain the best staff possible and to cultivate talent from within. Humanly, I don’t like the idea of someone being out of a job, or having to struggle through the concept of being fired. But business is not fair.

Often times I think back to the first day for everyone who has worked for me. My hope is that they came in with eyes wide open, ready to battle to be the best. Every single person I have ever hired, I believe, is a good person. However, good people don’t always make great employees.

In all honesty, I suck at firing people. It’s not that I am not sincere when forced to do it; it’s more so that I have historically lacked the ability to cut the cord. Perhaps it is my genuine interest in human success, combined with my dedication to not disrupt the relationship with our clients. Whatever the cause, it has prevented me from firing many people throughout my tenure as a CEO of a communications agency.

I am not ashamed of my struggling skill set. Instead, I am laser focused on corrective actions. As my agency continues to grow, I will need to own more of an iron fist to ensure No Limit Agency only hires the best, the brightest and those with the greatest potential.

So far, pretty good.

I realize our agency will only be as good as our people. I, as a solo CEO, am one. I am damn good at running a 25-person shop, but in order to scale our agency, I know I needed to recruit game changers — people willing to challenge my ways, my processes and my strategies so that my canvas could be painted even better.

As you have seen through my column, I am interested in changing and improving day in, day out. Whether as a person or as a business owner, my vision is to be the best. I will continue to learn from my mistakes and will continue to make this the greatest agency I can. If that means firing quickly, hiring slowly — so be it. It’s nothing personal. It’s just business.

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