26th April, 2009 - Posted by Bryan Walters -
Usually I tend to stray very far from writing anything that could cause a commotion, especially during the current economy, but I couldn’t resist this one. This post is meant to be a response to the post written by Chris Lyman of Fonality, and if you would like to read the original article, you can do so by clicking here.
Now in this article, Chris attempts to explain why managers hang on to bad employees and how to justify the need to fire them. Yet I tend to be on the other side of the fence on this issue. While Chris is running his company with money from his own pocket (which he acquired through the sale of Hosting.com) as well various venture capitalists, one of which is Intel, there is a certain obligatory level that must be upheld and fulfilled to those who took a risk in investing in his company. While PBX Techs has opted to take a much more personal approach, avoiding venture capitalists and using investments from its directors, we still recognize the importance of employee retention.
Now don’t get me wrong, some people fit Chris’ criteria, but there are a handful of reasons why managers shouldn’t fire people, or give in to Chris’ comments on this subject. So I’ll post my reasoning below:
- People are what make or break your business, while someone may be under performing, firing them is not the only solution. Often times, coaching is necessary to build an employee’s morale. You’d be amazed at how many underlying issues I’ve personally uncovered simply by taking an interest in my employee and thus furthering their career with not only PBX Techs, but with other companies I’ve worked with prior.
- From reading Chris Lyman’s article, you would get the impression that the general attitude amongst management within Fonality is that in this economy, people are expendable. This attitude is not the attitude you should have if you’re in charge of anyone, let alone control your own decisions. This mentality only shows that you don’t fully understand what it takes to bring new employees up to speed. In fact before you call someone into your office to fire them, calculate what you’re going to lose, the amount of money necessary to train someone new, not to mention how long it will be before you see any kind of productivity from the new person.
- Chris also says that one bad employee can ruin the culture of your company. I fundamentally disagree with this for several reasons. If you’ve ever worked at a company for a lengthy period of time and a colleague of yours was recently laid off, you’d understand that the negative implications of such a layoff were minimal. However, let’s not blame one employee for the culture of a company being ruined. Almost every issue encountered within an organization comes from the top down, so if your company suddenly has a shift in its overall employee morale and culture declination, then there’s no one else to blame except every level of management, including investors.
- And lastly, Chris assumes that employees that aren’t performing are miserable to begin with. I know from experience that there are a lot of things that can affect someone’s work, which brings us back to our original point, TALK TO THEM! Has it ever hurt to sit down and try to understand the mindset of an employee? The answer there is no, and it can actually help you as a manager as you work with that person to get back on track.
I’m not going to say that the decisions Chris Lyman is apparently making for his organization are necessarily wrong. From the outside looking in, we can definitely attempt to address some managerial issues. However, we must also recognize that in such situations such as Fonality’s, investors are expecting certain budgets to met and in certain organizational structures, budgets tend to supersede proper management. In today’s economy, as companies reel to save money, there are other methods available to address budget issues. While I do not agree that taking the most expensive route to save capital is a wise investment, I do hope I’ve left everyone with enough food for thought that they’ll think about the issue before firing anyone.