Hiring is one thing, but can you fire?

Hiring is one thing, but can you fire?

Early in my career, I seemed to always avoid management opportunities, never thought about it much, just always had the attitude that I just wanted to “do my own thing and sell”.  When you are good at sales, often your organization will tap you on the shoulder and say something like “how would you feel about leading a sales team?”, I always just said “no thanks”.  I went on to start a couple of my own businesses and on occasion would have a couple employees (small business type stuff just the way I liked it). 

I recently watched a video clip of the Key Note Address given by Patrick Lencioni to the 2017 USCCB Convocation of Catholic Leaders, and it was excellent! (link below, I highly recommend you watch it!)  It really gave me a lot to think about, especially as I have made the decision to move part (hopefully most if not all)  of my recruiting practice into the Catholic employment world.  One of the main points made to Catholic leaders is that you have to start with a foundation of “Radical Trust” so that you can then engage in “Healthy Conflict”.  After thinking about this, a lot of memory from my old sales days came flooding back, and I remember thinking and actually saying to several people that “you know I could hire people no problem, but man…..I don’t know if I could ever fire anyone….”  And, in my own small businesses I must admit I had a heck of a time managing the few people who did work for me and avoided conflict at every turn often to the detriment of my business. 

Now, I’m not in any way advocating just mustering up some courage and firing people as a quick solution to a problem in your organization and either is Lencioni.  He actually gives a compelling 5 step plan on how to “build and lead” an effective team that I wish I would have known about years ago. But could you fire someone if you needed to?  I think it is a good question. 

How many parishes have you seen where there is that one person, who has been there forever and runs roughshod over a new Pastor because “this is the way we have always done it”.  How often is a hire made in the parish because it’s someone’s sister or parish member for 15 years and the general consensus is that “oh yeah they will be great at that” only to find out they are terrible or lazy or way over their head, and now no one has the guts to fire them because it would cause so much personal conflict within the parish.  Lencioni is right, in effective leadership, you must be able to engage in conflict (in Love to the extent that you can) and that is hard.

So, a couple thoughts:

  • This topic reiterates the importance of a well written and comprehensive Job Description. If the JD spells out in detail the expectations of employment, then you have a solid document to review when addressing why an employee is failing.
  • If you as a new leader inherit employees, you should in the very initial meetings with your staff individually ask them if there was a Job description given when they were hired and instruct them that you would like to review it with them. Take the opportunity in this initial review to add your input on what you would like to see as part of the job and edit the JD and have the staff member sign it so that expectations are clear.  If there never was a Job Description, then start from scratch with their input.  Bottom line you must set expectations as the new leader.
  • If formal employee reviews are not part of your management processes they should be. Nothing is more effective at correcting insufficient work or bad behavior than a paper trail that can be reviewed and discussed.
  • For new hires, I would as part of their written Offer of Employment have a clause that spells out that “continued employment is contingent on successful completion of a 90 day trial period that would include……(then spell out exact expectations of what is reasonable to expect over the first 3 months of employment). In my experience most clients easily know if someone is going to work out in the first 90 days (usually 45) and if you have clearly outlined expectation and they are not being met, then the conversation as to why “this just isn’t working out and we are going to have to let you go…” is so much easier.

Companies in the secular world must manage well to make a profit.  Our Catholic church organizations be they large or small must be managed well for what…….salvation of souls!  What could be more important than that?

Patrick Lencioni: 5 Ways to build and lead effective teams in the Church

If you like the video, read this:

The Amazing Parish: Courage of an American Pastor