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Fire the Jerks, Even Your Boss

by Colle Davis

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After nearly four decades as an executive business coach, one of the recurring problems I’ve dealt with is convincing those in leadership positions to fire or relocate toxic employees. My clients will spend weeks or months complaining about these people, but they repeatedly let it slide and justify their behaviors. The delays in taking bold action to remove these employees create further catastrophes in departments and teams.
  1. The problematic person may be a solo contributor who excels at their job yet lacks people skills.
  2. They are a favorite of upper management.
  3. They are a family member or a close friend of a leader.
  4. They are trying hard to do a good job.
  5. They are a diversity hire, and their removal will create problems.
  6. They are doing a job that no one else wants to do or is willing to do.
  7. They were inherited from a merger or acquisition.
These noxious people are so prevalent in the workplace it has become part of my job as an executive coach to help clients lessen their impact or to find a way to remove them from their positions.
George Clooney, Up in the Air, 2009
I have helped clients map and implement approaches to remove these hires from their organizations or divisions or reduce their impact. These tactics range from humorous to deadly.

Interesting aside, one of our services is to fire these people. The scenario is similar if you have seen the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney, 2009.
  • First, we have the organization assemble the complete package they are willing to offer the person to leave. For example, schedule a 10:00 AM Thursday meeting with the person. The person does not know who I am or what the meeting is about.
  • Results: In the decades I have offered this service, most outbound employees have thanked me and, in many cases, were relieved and excited about moving on, and many even offered to buy me lunch. The package provided by the company was never fully utilized, often resulting in about 60% being accepted as generous and in good faith.
Now, let’s get into the meaty stuff.
The following six scenarios cover the most common tactics used in today’s corporate environment. We had to drop or modify some of our earlier tactics because they were no longer acceptable or legal. The following suggestions are action-packed behaviors; some will work, and others will not.
  1. Banishment. Remove the person from the offended group. Transferring an employee is a favorite method of moving your problem child to someone else’s jurisdiction. Out of sight, out of mind. Let some other poor schmucks take care of the problem. Unfortunately, this move leaves toxicity in the system, and too many managers have done the ‘move the a**hole to someone else’s group,’ and the poison is still infecting the organization.
  2. Withhold any salary, bonus, or perks until the person displays better behavior. The problem with the option is that it has become illegal in some situations and discriminatory in others. The biggest reason for suing a company is the differential treatment of employees.
  3. Solo contributors are an interesting breed of creatures. Look for their replacement and sort for people who can at least converse with other humans and explain their work or output in layperson’s terms. Get rid of the poisonous ones as quickly as possible by firing them.
4. When the person is your boss, especially if they grab the glory for your work or the group’s work and leave you with nothing. A solution requires finesse; when you/your group finishes a task or project, take the results to the boss’ superior immediately, bypassing your boss. Tout the win loudly, far and wide, and ignore any input your boss may want to add. Publicly grab the glory and ignore anything from the boss that is not a direct order. Shun them in conversations, turn your back on them, ignore their pleas, and never give them any credit for their accomplishments. This tactic is the hardest to accomplish, and it is the most powerful. Your aim is to get your boss fired or transferred.

5. Go out of your way to portray the toxic person in a bad light and make it public. NOTE: Be careful publishing negative comments online; social media is forever.

6. Leave the company. When given a chance to do an exit interview, write out what you want to say, stick to the script, and do not provide the script to HR or the exit interview person. This option means you are firing the organization because they are unwilling to clean up themselves, and there is little chance that any behaviors will change.

Several other options are available, and I think you get the idea. Toxic people are dangerous in many ways. They will continue their ways until they overstep their boundaries and sometimes get fired.

If you have one of these ugly creatures in your work environment and need more information on how to rid your life of them, contact me for additional ways to increase your courage to do the best for you.

Side note: If you have one in your personal life, we also have ways of dealing with them.

For help, contact us for more tips and suggestions on becoming an expert contact me. Colle Davis cdavis@mycoach.com or 804-467-1536 (EST) or set up a complimentary meeting via Zoom.