5 Excuses Managers Make To Avoid Firing Employees

Managers suffer from excuse-making just like anyone else. That's not to be taken lightly. Mistakes can lead to a company failing, which is why some common errors made by management - such as how to deal with bad employees - can be so dire.

Many employees know where they stand and whether their services can best be used elsewhere. But even when an employee is aware it might be time to go, they tend to hold on for a number of reasons. Fear of change, as well as a sense of comfort, are two reasons employees stick around even if they have potential elsewhere.

Their reluctance to make a chance is well-founded. Predictability is safe, so no matter how tough it gets, employees will hold on just because they know what to expect day in and day out. But the real challenge isn’t with employees, it’s actually with managers. Many managers don’t act on employees who should consider moving on.  It’s a common problem in business because of the myriad of excuses managers make.

Letting someone go is always difficult and requires managers to have a difficult conversation. It’s never easy and it can really damper the office mood. Even when the signs are on the wall, managers will often squirm out of it. It’s really a human behavior issue. Managers often ignore the signs, no matter how evident, just so that they can avoid the talk.  The best way for managers to consciously ignore the signs is by reinforcing an excuse: that person has potential, they have heart, maybe it’s our fault they have not panned out yet, their time is coming I can feel it.

Now that you’ve seen the excuses, here are the top five excuses that managers make to avoid firing an employee.

There’s Still Hope For Change

People don’t change, but their behaviors, do and managers often believe this to be true in all aspects of work life. They also believe that this applies to everyone. Fortunately for managers, they are right, but here’s the catch: people’s behaviors change at different rates and different times in their life, and for some it can take much longer than expected.

So when managers are hanging onto an employee because they hope this person’s behavior will change “anytime now,” it becomes a dangerous waiting game. Although that person’s behavior may eventually change, it might be at the consequence of a long painful work relationship.

If it’s hope managers are banking on, then there’s a whole lot of pain coming their way. Performance doesn’t ride on the coattails of hope. Performance is driven by an effective concerted effort. High performers don’t just suddenly come about; they don’t suddenly emerge from the ashes of low productivity and disengagement. Performance is a rapid evolution and that’s what managers can look for in their employees.

It doesn’t mean that high performers are born, it just means that average performers should be developing into high performers rather quickly. If they stay average, then that might be enough to stick around, but if average slips into low, then managers need to act quickly. Hope won’t turn a performer around.

4 But We’ve Already Invested So Much

Onboarding new employees can be a costly endeavor. Between training, administration, and people resources, it’s no wonder companies hesitate to take on such an investment. To add insult to injury, once they decide to take it on, it unequivocally has to work out. But when it doesn’t, the initial investment for most managers can be far too high to pull the plug early, so they often decide to hold onto that person even though that person’s talent and effort are suspect or questionable at best.

Time and time again, managers contemplate whether they made the right choice but are reluctant to act because they have committed so much already. The problem with this excuse is that it leads to bigger unmanageable problems. If managers think they’ve invested too much already, then they need to get ready for years of potential cost waste.

A poor performer’s total cost aside, managers need to think about the benefit a high-performer brings. Benefits can range from higher customer satisfaction to new customers, or even increased sales.  Spending the time and money to seek out high-performers and cut low-performers loose is about one of the best strategies managers can apply. Low-performers generally remain low-performers and effective managers cut them loose right away. It puts a dent in the budget, but only in the short-run. In the long-run, a high-performer will make up that lost ground.

3 But I’ll Look Bad, I Hired This Person

Yes it is true. If a manager hires a low performer, they can’t blame anyone but themselves. So rather than blame themselves, they hold onto the low performer thinking there might be some underlying motivation they have not triggered so that that person can explode into a superstar.

Masking accountability is a danger to long-term success. Come clean and cut loose. There’s no sense in managers making excuses for their new hire. It might be their fault that the low performer isn’t applying themselves, but they don’t have time to find out. Managers can only work with what they know. They know they hired the employee and they know that that person is a low-performer. They don’t know if they can “change “ that person, and they don’t know if that person can even maintain high performance without serious maintenance.

There’s no need to guess. If a manager made a mistake, it’s best to admit it early and take immediate action. Being accountable is not easy. It can be embarrassing to let someone go shortly after they’re hired. But caring about what others think and only trying to protect an image is like building barriers in the way of your own path.

2 I Like The Person

It’s not business, it’s personal. Having friends at work is far too common and easy to avoid. Not having friends at the office can make a manager seem weird, anti-social, or somewhat of an outcast. It’s not easy managing the fine line between work friends and associates or colleagues – especially for managers. They have the most difficult job of building relationships using many of the same elements of friendship such as trust and credibility.

They need to do this without developing a friendship, because when the time comes that their work friend’s performance is suspect, making a harsh decision will be more difficult. Friendship easily gets in the way of business, but more importantly, it gets in the way of the manager’s performance. Since managers are measured based on the performance of their staff, they need to pay close attention to who’s helping and who’s hurting. But if they’ve made friends with “hurters,” then they’ve just made their decision that much tougher.

1 I Don’t Have Time To Find A  Replacement

Staying with the status quo is like living with a numbing pain in your neck and not doing anything about it because it hasn’t sharpened. Managers can argue that finding high-performers is a crapshoot process. It’s like casting a wide net and hoping for the best. Because the process is so arbitrary, managers often don’t undertake it with such rigour or commitment. They often don’t want to invest the time because it there are no guarantees and it can be big waste of their personal time.

No doubt, it can be time consuming even with an effective strategy, and it doesn’t come with guarantees. However, in the absence of applying a rigorous process time and time again, how can a manager tell their process is even working? It’s best to measure the effectiveness of a hiring strategy by applying a set process time and time again so that the sample size is worthy. Often managers undertake a mixed process, and as a result, they can’t pin down what worked and what didn’t.

By trying different things every time, managers consequently force themselves to guess on what worked. Even worse, to save time, managers skip part of the hiring process because the documented process is too cumbersome.

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