Never Fire an Employee


Imagine a company that never fires employees. They exist, although imperfectly, but they are out there.

The basic idea is that the modern corporation (nonprofit or for profit) is a tribe or a family. If you are in, you are in. To get out, you have to leave. Even if you leave, we will likely take you back – well, if we are a loving family and forgiving tribe, and most importantly a workplace that invests on the front end of talent acquisition.

Hiring people should take time and be intentional. Certainly, the candidate must have the right skills, experience, and passion for the job, as well as be a good cultural and interpersonal fit with the management and team. But, the process should not simply be about the job fit – it should be about love and devotion, purpose and community.

Most anyone, given enough time on task and training, can figure out a job function and perform it well. Not every employer, however, can suffer an under-performing employee for long. One way to deal with the problem is to replace the employee, which is what typically happens, despite the costs to the company for replacing the individual, let alone the costs to the employee, his family, and the community at large.

Another, perhaps more difficult way to handle the problem is to find the employee another job within the company. To be sure, there are gaps to be filled and areas of improvement that perhaps better fit the employee’s skills and passions, and in turn might ultimately better serve both the company and employee. For this to work, however, the employer must be patient, team-oriented, and willing to stick to her decision that the employee was good for the team to begin with.

This sort of approach to a corporate family requires tremendous upfront investment in recruitment processes and workplace cultural norms development. You can pay on the front end and pick the right people for the team, or you can pay on the back end – likely double – to fire the wrong job-fit and keep hiring cogs in the wheel rather than drivers of the mission.

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