• It has come to our attention that some users may have been "banned" when they tried to change their passwords after the site was hacked due to a glitch in the old vBulletin software. This would have occurred around the end of February and does not apply after the site was converted to Xenforo. If you believe you were affected by this, please contact a staff member or use the Contact us link at the bottom of any forum page.

The Good thing about Firing People


GJG

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 10, 2006
Messages
3,111
Website
blog.hereshow.ie
I think that this deserves its own thread. Cato made a pretty good description of how things work in many areas of the private sector:

I once worked for a company where once a year the management teams of each of the businesses that made up the group had to identify the ‘dead weight’ within each team and then actively manage them out, using the disciplinary process. This was an annual cull of the worst performers.

Increments were awarded each year. The general increase would be agreed, but the bottom 20% of performers would receive no increase and the top 20% would receive an increase greater then the general one, while those in the middle would receive the general one.
I think that the metrics are a bit extreme, but the notion is common. Expatriot made a reasonable response, but I think that it is a bit legalistic and doesn’t appreciate the realities of working in the private sector economy.

Well harsh as that sounds I think it is a reasonable way of dealing with a difficult situation. If you are forced with getting rid of some of your staff you might as well get rid of the worst ones. But simply sacking people to save money is illegal, redundancy laws apply to anyone that is employed. I think maybe some private sector people are in for a bit of a shock when the "job for life" thing in the PS is destroyed.
There are two points to make: Firstly, employment protections don’t kick in until the employee is in the job for a year, and most employers have a ‘probationary’ period of at least six months, often more. Employees who aren’t up to scratch are taken aside and told in no uncertain terms what is required. If they don’t shape up, the employee will be told that their position will not continue.

The second point is what I’m interested in: Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure that it is.

Many people enter the workforce with grossly unrealistic notions about work rates, attention levels and other behaviours required to hold down a job, particularly a responsible one. Some people shape up. Some don't.

All other methods having failed, getting fired is a powerful feedback that your attitudes adjusting. It is unlikely to do any lasting harm to the career of someone who has recently entered the job market – but I think it can be actively helpful. It makes someone understand what they need to do to be successful in their career. Having learnt that lesson, they can go on to be successful, perhaps more so than if they had just muddled on, not getting anywhere in their job because they weren’t performing.

Thoughts?
 

beamish2010

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 7, 2010
Messages
488
Firing the politicans and bankers.

Yes it would be a good thing if we fired all the useless politicans and bankers...
Shut down Anglo Irish Bank,The HSE,FAS and sack all the Quangocrats...

The sooner the better...Sack the lot of them...
 

Cato

Moderator
Joined
Aug 21, 2005
Messages
20,561
I think that the metrics are a bit extreme, but the notion is common. Expatriot made a reasonable response, but I think that it is a bit legalistic and doesn’t appreciate the realities of working in the private sector economy.
It worked. It kept the team on their toes and in general those who were working hard were happy to have the dead weight gotten rid of. We used to do a employee survey once a year (anonymous) and consistently the second highest dissatisfier was the poor performance of others not being addressed.

The real key though is to try and constantly improve your hiring procedures so that potential poor performers are weeded out during the interview process.

The pay thing also worked as a motivator, both for the high performers to keep doing what they were doing and for the worst performers to leave.

There are two points to make: Firstly, employment protections don’t kick in until the employee is in the job for a year, and most employers have a ‘probationary’ period of at least six months, often more. Employees who aren’t up to scratch are taken aside and told in no uncertain terms what is required. If they don’t shape up, the employee will be told that their position will not continue.
Companies should always use this to their maximum advantage. A full review at the end of probation followed by another before the initial year is up. If unhappy with the employee then better to just get rid of them then rather than waiting for it to become legally difficult to deal with.

The second point is what I’m interested in: Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure that it is.

Many people enter the workforce with grossly unrealistic notions about work rates, attention levels and other behaviours required to hold down a job, particularly a responsible one. Some people shape up. Some don't.
It is a good thing. Better performing teams means better results for the company. It's also better for the employees as people prefer to be a part of a high performing team where everyone works hard and where people are not having to be carried. It's not always just new entrants to the work place that fall foul. Sometimes the performance of those who have been there for a while falls down and where that happens it has to be addressed using the performance management tools and the disciplinary process, which may result in dismissal.

All other methods having failed, getting fired is a powerful feedback that your attitudes adjusting. It is unlikely to do any lasting harm to the career of someone who has recently entered the job market – but I think it can be actively helpful. It makes someone understand what they need to do to be successful in their career. Having learnt that lesson, they can go on to be successful, perhaps more so than if they had just muddled on, not getting anywhere in their job because they weren’t performing.

Thoughts?
I've had a few (admittedly very few) people I fired come back and thank me for it saying it did them a favour. Sometimes it is just the shock people need.

I never took any pleasure in firing anyone. It is always difficult but sometimes it is necessary.
 

farnaby

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2006
Messages
1,966
Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it's *because* they sat there that they were able to do it.
George Clooney character's inspiring "you're fired" speech, from "Up in the Air"
 

leroy42

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
692
It CAN be a good thing, especially for someone starting out on a career but a little off kilter with what is expected of them, it may be the shake up they need.

However, it all depends on the attitude of the interviewers they then face. Many, the majority I would wager, hold being unemployed and especially being laid off as a massive negative against a person.

Rather, it should be seen for what it is, a set-back but not one that cannot be overcome. The interviewer shouldn't be worried that the candidate was sacked, rather why they were let go and how they have dealt with the issues that caused it (assuming not a forced redundancy due to business downturn etc)

But just like a failed business, the stigma of failure is huge in Ireland and very difficult to overcome.
 

Clanrickard

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 25, 2008
Messages
33,031
There are two points to make: Firstly, employment protections don’t kick in until the employee is in the job for a year, and most employers have a ‘probationary’ period of at least six months, often more. Employees who aren’t up to scratch are taken aside and told in no uncertain terms what is required. If they don’t shape up, the employee will be told that their position will not continue.

The second point is what I’m interested in: Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure that it is.
Employees with the threat of firing hanging over them do not perform well. You can only sack employees if they fall down in pre-agreed performance indicators. Firing the bottom performers every year is a crap way of running a business. Supposing there is no "deadwood"? Why do the bottom 20% get no bonus and not the bottom 30%. What you have described is a rubbish way to run a business.
 

Cato

Moderator
Joined
Aug 21, 2005
Messages
20,561
Employees with the threat of firing hanging over them do not perform well. You can only sack employees if they fall down in pre-agreed performance indicators. Firing the bottom performers every year is a crap way of running a business. Supposing there is no "deadwood"? Why do the bottom 20% get no bonus and not the bottom 30%. What you have described is a rubbish way to run a business.
It was not the bottom performers that were fired every year, just the dead wood and they were always given the chance to improve. If they did then they didn't get fired. Performance standards were made very plain and explicit and everyone was expected to conform to them and even exceed them. Those who didn't had their performance managed and were worked through the disciplinary procedures.

It wasn't that the bottom 20% didn't receive a bonus, it was that they didn't receive the cost of living increase. 60% did and 20% received greater than the COL increase. Bonuses were paid only on the basis of profit targets being exceeded, and then everyone shared in them.
 

FreshStart

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Messages
705
And of course your method is perfect for creating a bullying culture.

I wish people would stop thinking stupid shows like The Apprentice, America's Next Top Model, X Factor etc were good examples of how society should be.

You describe dead wood as cannon fodder. You're disgusting.

Having worked with someone in a position of power who employed these models, the result was fear, anxiety and depression. None of which contributed to high productivity, just a truckload of hyper-vigilance and priorities gone askew.

Yep. excellent working model.
 

Clanrickard

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 25, 2008
Messages
33,031
It was not the bottom performers that were fired every year, just the dead wood and they were always given the chance to improve. If they did then they didn't get fired. Performance standards were made very plain and explicit and everyone was expected to conform to them and even exceed them. Those who didn't had their performance managed and were worked through the disciplinary procedures.
Sounds fair.

It wasn't that the bottom 20% didn't receive a bonus, it was that they didn't receive the cost of living increase. 60% did and 20% received greater than the COL increase. Bonuses were paid only on the basis of profit targets being exceeded, and then everyone shared in them.
Why 20%? What if the bottom 20% had exceeded performance standards? Sounds unfair and tantamount to a bully boy culture. Also there would be grounds for litigation.
 

Cato

Moderator
Joined
Aug 21, 2005
Messages
20,561
Why 20%? What if the bottom 20% had exceeded performance standards? Sounds unfair and tantamount to a bully boy culture. Also there would be grounds for litigation.
I didn't agree with that either. My main problem with it was that the objective grounds for measuring performance were limited and it normally came down to the subjective judgement of the management team. The scope for abuse and/or unfairness was too great.

What I am saying above is simply how things were, not necessarily what I approve of. Signs on it that I now work for a charity rather than in the 'profit-sector', albeit that I am on the fund-raising wing of the charity.

What I will say though is that it worked in terms of results and the employee satisfaction surveys always came back good. While the company was tough, very though, on performance it was generous on employee perks and we were very flexible and believed in supporting employees when they had personal problems. It was a good company to work for. I started on the floor and worked my way up, eventually ending up as one of the senior managers. Having said that, in the end I didn't like some of the direction the company was going in with performance management. The gung-ho, Jack Welsh, fire-the-bottom-10%-every-year approach started to kick in.
 

Sancho

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Messages
365
I think that this deserves its own thread. Cato made a pretty good description of how things work in many areas of the private sector:



I think that the metrics are a bit extreme, but the notion is common. Expatriot made a reasonable response, but I think that it is a bit legalistic and doesn’t appreciate the realities of working in the private sector economy.



There are two points to make: Firstly, employment protections don’t kick in until the employee is in the job for a year, and most employers have a ‘probationary’ period of at least six months, often more. Employees who aren’t up to scratch are taken aside and told in no uncertain terms what is required. If they don’t shape up, the employee will be told that their position will not continue.

The second point is what I’m interested in: Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure that it is.

Many people enter the workforce with grossly unrealistic notions about work rates, attention levels and other behaviours required to hold down a job, particularly a responsible one. Some people shape up. Some don't.

All other methods having failed, getting fired is a powerful feedback that your attitudes adjusting. It is unlikely to do any lasting harm to the career of someone who has recently entered the job market – but I think it can be actively helpful. It makes someone understand what they need to do to be successful in their career. Having learnt that lesson, they can go on to be successful, perhaps more so than if they had just muddled on, not getting anywhere in their job because they weren’t performing.

Thoughts?
I have a family member working reasonably high in HR in Ireland. This lowest 10/20% is an American model, and is loathed by the Irish HR managers she has dealt with. Managers are given a quota to produce a certain number of bottom rung performers and often have to pick people whose performance is not actually bad, simply to fill the quota. It's an obnoxious con.

I have worked with colleagues who were put under this 'you have 6 months to shape up' routine. The pressure of having the axe poised over their necks was immense, the sheer unpleasantness of the whole thing made me and others in the department angry. As an Irish branch of a US-based multinational, we have made it known how much we despise the system.

Treat your staff with the courtesy due to every individual. You have a higher position in the food chain but are not a superior human being - that's US corporate mentality seeping into your own attitudes. Fire people for dishonesty, incompetence, and any of the other cut and dried disciplinary reasons but don't presume to decide on their worth as people.
 

former wesleyan

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2009
Messages
25,811
I worked in the Middle East for a section of a large corp. which was headed by the president of one of Americas largest management societies. His impenetratable words of wisdom were passed around for us to read and wonder over.
During a particularily difficult shutdown where problems of a technical and cultural nature had delayed the start-up there was the usual debrief. After listening to input from at least a dozen superintendents and conclusions from their lead engineers his reaction ? " Fire somebody " Somebody !!
Transatlantic crap... imported from a culture where power like this stands in for a class system.
 

ballot stuffer

Well-known member
Joined
May 21, 2007
Messages
1,503
I have a family member working reasonably high in HR in Ireland. This lowest 10/20% is an American model, and is loathed by the Irish HR managers she has dealt with. Managers are given a quota to produce a certain number of bottom rung performers and often have to pick people whose performance is not actually bad, simply to fill the quota. It's an obnoxious con.

I have worked with colleagues who were put under this 'you have 6 months to shape up' routine. The pressure of having the axe poised over their necks was immense, the sheer unpleasantness of the whole thing made me and others in the department angry. As an Irish branch of a US-based multinational, we have made it known how much we despise the system.

Treat your staff with the courtesy due to every individual. You have a higher position in the food chain but are not a superior human being - that's US corporate mentality seeping into your own attitudes. Fire people for dishonesty, incompetence, and any of the other cut and dried disciplinary reasons but don't presume to decide on their worth as people.
"At-will" employment, where employees can be let go for any reason without notice, is the norm in many US states.
If the member of staff is not performing why should the company continue to employee them. They aren't charities. You may feel sorry for the person on the receiving end of the dismissal but what about potentially more able candidates who are prevented from being employed?
 

Sancho

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Messages
365
"At-will" employment, where employees can be let go for any reason without notice, is the norm in many US states.
If the member of staff is not performing why should the company continue to employee them. They aren't charities. You may feel sorry for the person on the receiving end of the dismissal but what about potentially more able candidates who are prevented from being employed?
what I've seen is not performance-related (in many cases). It's just a number: you have 20 people in your department and every six months you must select 3 of them for Death Row. Doesn't matter if all 20 are performing well, pick the weakest three. Obnoxious.
 

paulp

Well-known member
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
7,324
I didn't agree with that either. My main problem with it was that the objective grounds for measuring performance were limited and it normally came down to the subjective judgement of the management team. The scope for abuse and/or unfairness was too great.

What I am saying above is simply how things were, not necessarily what I approve of. Signs on it that I now work for a charity rather than in the 'profit-sector', albeit that I am on the fund-raising wing of the charity.

What I will say though is that it worked in terms of results and the employee satisfaction surveys always came back good. While the company was tough, very though, on performance it was generous on employee perks and we were very flexible and believed in supporting employees when they had personal problems. It was a good company to work for. I started on the floor and worked my way up, eventually ending up as one of the senior managers. Having said that, in the end I didn't like some of the direction the company was going in with performance management. The gung-ho, Jack Welsh, fire-the-bottom-10%-every-year approach started to kick in.
Were you working a company based in Ireland?

Firing a permenant employee in Ireland is difficult and takes a lot of management effort. Especially if you're in an industry where it is difficult to measure performance objectively (as you have noted).

Also, I find there is a general unwillingness to sack people among first line managers, who will know the person and in general be prepared to put up with some dead wood rather that go down the road of trying to get rid of it, due to the workload and multiple difficult conversations to be had. It's just easier to turn a blind eye.
This is even more so in the cases where the dead wood is due to lack of ability rather that lack of effort.

just a side, your saying the charity industry shouldn't be or isn't as demanding of it's employees as the rest of the private sector?
 

Fides

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2010
Messages
4,442
While I have never worked in a "fire the bottom 10% culture" in my 17 years in the corporate world I would say more than 10% of the people I worked with were fired or let go and I did my share of this firing. In most cases these people were basically in the wrong job, they were not up to it and they were fired based on performance; another group were either lazy or dishonest; and another group just didn't seem to be able to fit into the 9-5, 39 hour week. It never ceased to amaze me how many people out there are incapable of work or clung to jobs they were not able to do. We tried to be as humane as we could with training and time but in some cases you knew from day 1 it wasn't going to work out. The interview process is seriously flawed at the best of times and most people embelish their abilities while references are not worth the paper they are written on.
 

Jezza

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 8, 2010
Messages
1,766
What you will see in the cost-cutting recession will be far worse-

Companys that have to lay off staff to cut costs will lay off those with the shortest service, so that they pay the lowest possible redundancy.

Not always, but more often than not, this results in the best staff leaving, and the worst staff staying. The Company gets its sort-term saving, but the long-term damage is catastrophic. I have seen this happen twice.
 
Top