Fig Tree Branches and leaves

Instead of Firing, Make Your System Better & Then Decide

If your boss was going to fire you, would you want her to have done everything possible to set you up for success before pulling the trigger?

Unfortunately, that doesn’t usually happen. When things go poorly, many managers and leaders think of getting rid of the person and fail to make the system better first. But what if instead of terminating the team member we instead do everything we can to set them up for success? 

The beauty of this approach is that the improvement of the system illuminates poorly performing team members but it also allows potential good team members to excel.

After setting people up for success, the only reason they fail is that they’ve made that choice. And poorly performing people are great for illuminating a business system’s weaknesses & problems. The alternative is to fire them quickly and find a replacement. Unfortunately, if its a systemic problem, you'll face the same situation all over again.

There’s an old parable about a farmer and a fruitless fig tree. After years of no harvest, the farmer decided to cut it down. But, his helper contested his decision and asked for a year where he would take care of this tree and fertilize it. If after this year of care there still was no fruit, he could chop it down. 

Instead of going straight to placing that contractor or employee on the chopping block, consider leveraging poorly executing team members as the tension required to improve the systems they're involved with. When it's improved you'll have clarity on whether it was the system or person that was truly failing. 

Photo by Belle Hunt on Unsplash

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