It really is Okay to Fire an Employee

Last week I read with some interest how Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, terminated the COO that she had hired.  The way people were going off on her over terminating someone’s employment for not meeting goals was off the chart.  Putting aside this guy walked away with millions in a package, I was dumbfounded that she was taking all this heat over doing her job!

Yet, let’s look at how often we really terminate or fire an employee for not meeting their job performance.  Oh sure, we terminate quickly for fraud, stealing, harassment, or other inappropriate behaviors, but how often for just not getting the job done?

I watch people everyday of the week, under perform their jobs, in fact just plain not perform and they celebrate another anniversary with the company.  They milk their jobs for everything they can get, without bothering to give back what is expected.  Some are incompetent, and others are just good at hiding their lack of accomplishments.  I applaud people like Marissa Mayer for taking the step of terminating the guy she hand chose for the job when she realized he was not able to meet the expectations.  Good for her!

You are not doing your company any favors by keeping unproductive employees on the payroll, and you really are not doing these employees any favors by telling them it is okay to under perform.  As long as you have done what is necessary to create a work environment with realistic goals, then you have the right to terminate them if they do not produce.

But before I sign off on this topic, I would like to play devils advocate for just a moment.  What should happen to the leader that sets unrealistic goals, provides little to no support and ends up terminating their entire team?  Should they too lose their job? I am of the belief that managers should pay a price too if their staff is unable to perform.  I also think that managers that lose their entire staffs through resignations should be terminated too, because they are not doing their job if people want to leave.


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