Today's Challenge: Hard People Decisions – Part 2

Last week, I began a post on Hard People Decisions. I wrote about specific things we can do to help someone who’s struggling to grow into the role. As I thought more about the issue, I realized the leader must confront these hard decisions with the right mindset. If we don’t, it’s unlikely we’ll ever muster the courage to do the right thing.

Don’t let an individual hijack the team. When you and I fail to respond in an appropriate, timely fashion to hard people decisions, we are sacrificing the team for an individual. By the way, the individual we’re protecting is most often ourselves! For whatever reason, perhaps several, we have chosen to put our own fears and anxiety ahead of the team. We challenge our team members to be good team players. We need to listen to our own advice and do the right (sometimes hard) thing for the team.
Don’t steal someone’s life. Jim Collins challenged all the Chick-fil-A leadership with this idea several years ago. He told us to work diligently to avoid an employee reaching the end of their career of lackluster performance, filled with dissatisfaction and devoid of personal fulfillment. Jim said you don’t want the employee to say, “You stole my life!” Help people find fulfilling work they can LOVE, even if it’s outside your organization.
Always show honor, dignity and respect. Just because a person has failed in a role doesn’t make them a failure. Think about yourself in their position – how would you want to be treated? If he or she is a long-standing employee, consider what type recognition and send-off might be appropriate. Help them as much as possible with their transition.
Remember, hurt does not equal harm. I learned this from Dr. Henry Cloud. He told me to think about the dentist. It hurts, but it doesn’t harm. When you and I release someone from a job, it will hurt… both of us! However, we can’t confuse this with long-term harm.
Be courageous and lead. The best leaders learn to make tough decisions. I’ve written before about the happy trap – avoid it at all costs. If we can’t make hard people decisions, it will undermine our leadership and our followship. The top performers on our team will question our judgment, our wisdom, our view of reality, and our leadership if we fail to make the tough people decisions.
Making tough people decisions may never be easy – perhaps it shouldn’t be. However, I’m convinced it is one of the roles the best leaders embrace. Lean into the hard people decisions, and you’ll be glad you did.[GLS_Shield]

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Dan Forbes

8 years ago

Well said. I suggest that we must also not sacrifice great for good. Don’t allow team members to settle on good when they have the capacity to be great. Lead them to discover their full potential.

mark

8 years ago

Thanks, Dan, for sharing your thoughts! I agree, leaders often see more in people than those people see in themselves. It’s a fun part of our role. Please let me know how I can serve you in the future. Mark

Sean Olson

8 years ago

Thanks for this new installment. I cherish the notion you lay out that sometimes releasing someone – the hard decision – is the best thing we can ever do for them. In releasing them with honesty and sharing where we see their strengths, they can pursue a better fit for their life.

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