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A recent article posed the question about whether you would hire a supervisor that had never fired anyone.  In the article, the writer mentions a “killer” question that he asks supervisory interviewees – Have you fired anyone?  He queries his readers whether he is being to harsh.

Here are a few of my thoughts on this topic.

In my opinion, I would honestly say, no, you aren’t being to harsh to ask that question. It is important to keep standards, expectations and integrity high and stay consistent. On the other hand, there could be some really great leaders out there that would rather train an employee and utilize them in their actual expertise, than fire them; as long as the employee wants the training and leadership. If the employee doesn’t wish to improve themselves, then it becomes more difficult to keep that firedemployee. I strongly believe that good leadership finds the best in others and utilizes their expertise. But there is only so much a good leader can do without the properly trained followers.

It’s imperative for executives to have the ability to confront a difficult situation rather than avoid it. If executives were selective on what they will and won’t tolerate, it would pose another key question – if you avoid difficult situations in one area of importance, how many other areas are being avoided? The concern then becomes how is that avoidance effecting the bottom line, the integrity of the company, and the company culture? Are talented employees voluntarily leaving because difficult situations are being avoided?  Because the supervisor cannot handle the difficult situations, are the talented employees required to pick up the slack?

I don’t think it is realistic to be in a position to train and manage hundreds of employees and never walk someone to the door. If this truly existed, the focus would be to learn more about how that supervisor was really able to successfully train and manage or move someone to a different department every single time. The next focus would be to discuss the hiring process and what they were doing to find excellent employees every single time. As you well know, turnover is very costly.  To win, at least half the battle, one must establish a good hiring process to seek out talented people.

On the other hand, having the ability to politely tell someone else something they already know is truly a talent. No one fires anyone else, poor employees usually fire themselves. Executives just have to know the appropriate way to say enough is enough.