About 10 years ago I was having my annual holiday party, and my niece had come with her newly minted M.B.A. boyfriend. As he looked around the room, he noted that my employees seemed happy. I told him that I thought they were.
Then, figuring I would take his new degree for a test drive, I asked him how he thought I did that. “I’m sure you treat them well,” he replied.
“That’s half of it,” I said. “Do you know what the other half is?”
He didn’t have the answer, and neither have the many other people that I have told this story. So what is the answer? I fired the unhappy people. People usually laugh at this point. I wish I were kidding.
I’m not. I have learned the long, hard and frustrating way that as a manager you cannot make everyone happy. You can try, you can listen, you can solve some problems, you can try some more. Good management requires training, counseling and patience, but there comes a point when you are robbing the business of precious time and energy.
Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t happen a lot. There’s no joy in the act of firing someone. And it’s not always the employee’s fault — there are many bad bosses out there. Bad management can make a good employee dysfunctional. On the other hand, good management will not always make a dysfunctional employee good. And sometimes people who would be great employees somewhere else just don’t fit your company, whether it is the type of business or the company culture.
In the worst cases, the problem of a bad fit can have a bigger impact than just one employee’s performance. Being in charge does not necessarily mean you are in control, and being in control does not necessarily mean being in charge. Have you ever seen a company or department paralyzed by someone who is unhappy and wants to take hostages? It is remarkable how much damage one person can do. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you watch “The Caine Mutiny.” Basically, one guy takes apart the ship. He was unhappy. It only takes one.
HT Josh Biggley - So true - some people are like Dark Matter - always critical, cynical - they exude negativity. They cannot be placated. The influence many others.
The day after they are gone, light shines.
But if you keep them the cancer spreads.