• Saba Saleem Warsi

Why Firing Someone is Actually a Good Leadership Trait


There is an old business quote, that I personally love: "Hire slow, fire fast".

Now a very quick google search of this phrase is probably going to leave you very confused. You will find articles contradicting each other left, right and center. Some will say it's a great idea, and others will say that there is nothing more terrible.

So, I decided to give my two cents on the firing part of this quote. Having been a leader now for about 8 years in my career, I have made many mistakes and learned a lot from those mistakes. And try as hard as I may, I have made some huge hiring mistakes. So what does one do on the realization of hiring the wrong person? There are only three options really:

1. Train the person until they get it right

2. Move the person to a different position where they may do better

3. Fire the person

I would still say that the first two options are worth a try, but when you have exhausted those options, there is only one thing left to do.

So, based on my experience, here are some things I have learned about why firing is actually a good option:

1. You may be doing someone a favor:

Think about it. We are all good at something, each one of us. And if someone is doing extremely terrible at their work, even after constant training or warnings, this probably is not the right place or suitable work for them. By letting someone go, you are giving them an opportunity to find something that may actually enjoy doing and be good at.

2. Firing can be humane and respectful:

So, we have established that sometimes firing is a good thing? But what most people dread is the actual act of firing. I know it can be hard to sit across from someone that you may actually like personally and having to give them the bad news. Well, it's hard and certainly uncomfortable, but it does not need to be terrible or inhumane.

In fact, I have fired people in the past who I still see socially and am still on amicable terms with.

Firing does not have to disrespectful in any way.

So how does one ensure this? Well, first of all, you need to let go of any emotions you may be feeling regarding the firing. Any anger, resentment, or disappointment must be kept aside, and you must only focus on the individual's work performance. If you have a trail of issues regarding performance and if they have been communicated to the employee earlier, then they would already know it's coming.

Also end it well. You want to make sure that you explain that you are obligated to look for the best interests of the company, the other employees and the employee being fired as a whole. Explain your point of view clearly. And give them a chance to speak. Most times the employee will understand your point of view and may even agree.

And always wish them well, and offer to help if they need.

3. You can eliminate risk of resentment:

Having a disgruntled employee around can effect the motivation of other high performing employees. If an individual who works hard at his job, sees another individual on a "free ride", it can be very demotivating, and it might not be long before you have more than one disgruntled employee.

In this case, letting someone go, is not only professional but is necessary for the emotional and mental health of other employees as well.

So, this is my take on the "fire fast" conversation. I would love to know your thoughts on this.


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