How the Exit Door can Improve Results

You’re in business to generate results. To create positive outcomes. To add value and serve customers. To make profit.

And a good leader, like any experienced gardener, knows that the short-term trauma of pruning is necessary for long-term productivity and an optimal harvest.

In other words, fire the slackers. Remove the malcontents. Find some other place for misfits. Get rid of the bad apples.

Just because someone, for some reason, at some time, was hired for a job, does not mean that they merit an ongoing place in the organization. This is not a nursery school or therapist’s office. This is business. If you’re not in line with the organization’s goals and philosophy, if you’re not producing value, if you’re a form of deadweight or even resistance, then you need to be shown your next opportunity. Through the exit door.

Leadership is about making progress and producing results, not coddling the unproductive.

If you’re taking a flight from NYC to San Francisco, just how many outworn, ill-fitting, or defective parts do you want to tolerate on your aircraft? Exactly. No, people are not machines, I get that; but still – if someone is not functioning for the purpose needed, ought they not to be replaced? Sooner, rather than later? We should always have a charitable attitude toward people – but that doesn’t make running a business like running a charity.

Of course, this is not to say that we chop off team members every time there is some negative issue. A failure, or a fixable character flaw, or a customer service mistake, or a lack of skill in a particular area – that’s all just part of the human condition at work. What I’m talking about is people who won’t evolve, who won’t make efforts, who actually undermine, over time, the progress of the organization. People who, like a car front end out of alignment, exhaust the driver by forcing him or her to constantly fight off a pull in the wrong direction.

Align. Or good-bye.

These “bad apples” (or just plain mismatches) are the ones who, if tolerated, will dispirit all the other members of the team. They will require an inordinate amount of energy and damage control for leaders and managers. If the individual is a square peg and the role/company is a round hole, then the best thing to do is not to try to reshape the person. Quickly, with kind resolve, re-direct. Out. Everyone benefits. Including the person who really does need to find a more suitable “fit” for a work environment.

There is at least one area of diversity that is NOT good. And that is diversity in adding value. If someone is a net negative to the organization, inhibiting the production of results, and there’s no good place to re-direct them in the team, then take a cue from Donald Trump. Fire them.

You are not leading a business to make up for someone else’s bad parenting, someone else’s lousy schooling, someone else’s crummy work ethic or attitude. You’re there to build a results-producing team. You don’t win a rowing race by dragging an anchor.

Leading is planting, watering…and pruning.

Join us for a discussion of this important topic on Tuesday, March 6th (8 pm ET) during LeadershipChat on Twitter (use hashtag #LeadershipChat). Be sure to read the perspectives of my uber-smart co-host Lisa Petrilli in her prep post (The Art of Leadership when Letting People Go) – especially if you want to read someone who is perhaps just a tad less hard-nosed than me on this topic! And feel free to share your perspectives and experiences during the chat – we value your input!


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

5 Responses to How the Exit Door can Improve Results

  1. Pingback: March Topics « Leadership Chat

  2. Steve G says:

    @Connection Agent –

    This post is DEAD ON! (But you already knew that!) You did a gr8 job covering all the bases here and there is not much to add!

    The most important part of building a team is having the right members on that team. Sometimes there is “Addition thru Subtraction!”

    Thanks Connection Agent for the post!


  3. Pingback: Cattle Disguised as People « Connection Agent

  4. Nice post but rather elementary. Would like to see you get dirty every once in a while…

  5. Pingback: You’re FIRED (5 times)! « Connection Agent

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