The square peg and the workplace

Here’s a recent find, the “You’re the Boss” blog in the New York Times (H/T Phil Stott at CNBC).  What drew me in was this tough-minded post on happy employees by Jay Goltz.  “A tough-minded post on happy employees”, you say?  Yes indeed, for as Goltz notes:

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.

Basically, Goltz says you have to be prepared to fire the square peg who doesn’t fit, doesn’t want to fit, or wants everyone else to change to fit him.

I learned this lesson early on back in my McD’s days.  Let me tell you, when you’re the opening or closing manager you don’t want to run short-staffed.  So it is very tempting Continue reading

How to fire someone the right and safe way

It is a sad part of being a leader…some folks will have to be let go.  But when you read the first example in this InfoWorld article on How to Fire an IT Person, you’ll know that sometimes “you gotta do what you gotta do”.

Step 1: Plan for damage control is especially important.  I once took over a group with known performance problems; but I wasn’t sure exactly where to look.  As I asked a few questions of the team, I identified one colleague whose role was confined to “knowing where all our digital data was stored.”  Which this colleague made sure that I understood clearly…he knew where all of our precious data was.  Wouldn’t it be a shame if something happened to it?

While this colleague was clearly not productive and was hurting the morale the rest of my staff, it was essential to protect our digital assets.  I found that using this approach — and its suggested priorities — worked well (emphasis mine):

Therefore, before you plan to terminate someone, you need to figure out what kind of access they have to all the company networks. Find out who else has access to those systems; if no one else does, then add a backup administrator.

[M]anagers will also need to determine how to prepare for a smooth transition to other employees and how to implement new security measures in the wake of the person’s dismissal. “If you don’t have the measures in place to turn everything off and prepare, it’s best to postpone the termination,” [Todd] Stefan, [president of high-tech risk management firm Talon Cyber] says.

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