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Be clear, be upfront when firing. Source: Unsplash/christinhumephoto

Leadership
SmartCompany Plus

‘Be rigorous, not ruthless’: Advice on firing from 10 world-leading entrepreneurs

Authors
SmartCompany Plus
Human Resources, Managing
8 minute Read

Nothing is more difficult than telling an employee they have lost their job, but almost no business or senior manager can avoid it. The crucial ingredient is to do it with transparency and humanity.


“When you’ve reached the demarcation line and have decided to replace someone in a key seat, keep in mind an essential distinction: Be rigorous, not ruthless,” writes business guru Jim Collins in Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0.

“Rigor means applying self-honesty and confronting head-on the need to remove someone from a key seat. But being rigorous in decision making doesn’t mean being ruthless in how you go about making the change. To be rigorous, not ruthless, requires a blend of courage and compassion.

“The courage comes in being direct and straightforward, not hiding behind made-up reasons or delegating the hard task to someone else. If you don’t have the guts to take personal responsibility for making the decision and delivering the news, then you don’t have the right to lead. The compassion comes via tone and respect. Are you handling the change in such a manner that you’d feel comfortable calling this person on his or her birthday next year, and years down the road? And would the person warmly welcome the call?”

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