Swimming with your clothes on (When it's time for a staff change)

Let’s face it, sometimes there is a mismatch between a person’s abilities or attitude, and the needs of the job. And when that mismatch occurs and can’t be remediated, it’s time to help that person find a new job.

But too often, for fear of looking like the bad guy, or just doing something that makes us uncomfortable, we hold on to staff that we know ultimately are causing more trouble than good. I was talking with David Gammel about this concept recently, and he pointed out that keeping bad staff is a lot like wearing your clothes when swimming: While it may feel better to jump into the water fully clothed, in very short order the wet clothes will start to wear you down and the experience will quickly become exhausting.

I’ve had the distinct displeasure of having to fire more than a few people in my time as a manager. But I can say that as painful as it was to do it, it was far better than the alternative of hanging on to someone who didn’t belong in the job. And in at least one case, someone I helped leave an organization actually told me it was the best thing that happened to him. He was just too afraid to make the move himself and I was able to help him make that move.

So ask yourself: Are you swimming with your clothes on?

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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