When Capable People Need To Go
The biggest challenge that any organization - small or large - faces is finding and keeping good people. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a start-up team of 3 or if you’re Google, the core challenge remains the same: employ the best people possible.
And getting the best people is a complex goal with multiple aspects to it, each as important as the other.
How do I find the best people to do what is needed? How do I incent them to do their best work? How do I make sure they stay?
It’s no wonder then that good companies put a hefty premium on answering these questions. They make a conscious decision to invest what’s needed to answer these questions as best they can. The last thing they want is to make those investments, to do all of that work and then have those people leave.
But sometimes you have capable people - people who are knowledgeable and competent and able to do the work that’s needed - who shouldn’t be at the company any longer.
People you’ve invested in over the years, who fill a specific role, doing the work that needs to be done to keep the engine churning. People who, if they left, would be difficult to replace, and to do so, it may take a while, despite the money you’re willing to pay or the lengths you’re willing to go to replace them.
But they’re no longer a fit.
They do the works that’s needed but it comes with baggage and issues and complications.
Their attitude has changed over the years. Perhaps they’re tired or burnt out. Perhaps they’ve lost their dedication to the challenge. Perhaps they have issues, either with the company, or within their personal lives. Whatever the cause, the dedication is no longer there, and the impact is tangible.
They’ve developed an inflated sense of their contribution. They begin to think they’re indispensable. They isolate themselves. They take liberties with the culture of the company. They always think they’re right, and aren’t open to reasonable debate and discussion.
They treat others poorly. They become difficult to be around. They become aggressive - either overtly or passively. They are no longer genuine in their support of their colleagues. They pride themselves (and in fact take pleasure) in being tough to work with or in speaking with a complete (and intentional) lack of tact.
Of course, in these (and other such) situations, it’s important to see if the situation is salvageable.
Perhaps it requires an open and honest conversation, a resetting of expectations, a frank discussion about personal goals/situations and how they align with the needs of the company. It’s important that every effort is made to make things work again. Sometimes this is possible - not easy, but possible. Other times it isn’t.
And so these capable people need to go.
It’s a tough call to make, for sure. These folks are doing whats needed and they can be trusted to do it well. But the reality is that the idea of “good people” is more than simple capability. That is important and a foundational factor. But it’s so much more than that.
The idea of “good” and the idea of “fit” encompasses softer factors like those discussed above. The ability to work with others. The ability to contribute to a good working environment. The ability to add to and strengthen a positive culture. If those aren’t there, then a tough call has to be made.
And almost always that tough call is for that person to go. In the long run, you’ll be better off for it.