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Let’s face it, it is easy to fire someone who is a total menace. When it comes to someone you despise, vengeance can come quickly and mercilessly, severing the former employee from the company in a master stroke. And to be honest, you probably feel good about it too. But what about firing someone who is upbeat, well-liked, and a genuinely good human being?
I was reading an article over at Datamation by Eric Spiegel entitled Dealing with Unaccountable Developers. He discussed having to fire a developer who was decent at their job but always late in turning in assignments. He confessed that if the developer was a jerk it would have been no problem, but since he was a well liked guy it was very difficult.
Now imagine a new scenario. You work in a decent sized company (not too large that everything is impersonal, but not so small that everyone can go to lunch at the same restaurant, at the same time) and unfortunately a round of layoffs is about to happen. Let’s now take you and a duplicate of you. Both does the same good job at work, one though is upbeat and helpful the other is well a jerk.
It’s not just the fact that positive people are pleasant and the working environment is such a nice place with that sort of work conditions (ok well that is a really big reason), but optimistic, positive people are, as they said in the Army, a force multiplier. Positive people make me work harder because work becomes fun. It also makes it so I don’t dread getting up in the morning.
Which one do you think will keep their job? I know what you are saying, “Dave, it’s not even a contest me and myself obviously have the same skills and between the two of us of course they are going to keep the person who isn’t a hellion.”
True enough. So how about this, you have a team of say ten employees. Out of the ten, your brightest star is a real ass. The type of guy that put everyone in a foul mood. Unfortunately the guy is absolutely brilliant, a fact he knows all too well and reminds everyone of it every day. The other 9 employees aren’t great, but they are bad. They get the job done for the most. You need to cut one person from the team for budget concerns. Who would you cut?
Difficult. See the easy route would be to fire one of the under performers. However, the question is, why are they underperforming? Just as the positive people make work less of a problem and may even make it fun and a joy to do, the negative people produce a hostile working environment. Instead of focusing on work, the nine people could be starring at the clock waiting for the work day to end so they can get the hell out of Dodge. I was talking to Ron about this the other day and he had actual experience with this a while back.
He had a star employee, one who performed far better than anyone, however he was difficult to be around let alone work with. The rest of the team wasn’t bad, they were, well average. Ron had to fire one of them, but the choice was difficult. In the end, he fired the “talent.” He was just too high maintenance and was not a team player in the truest sense of the word. What was interesting was the change to the team that took place after the jerk was fired. In a few days, the office environment was jovial and warm. The team ended up producing a lot more. In fact, they produced more than enough to make up for the loss. It was a gamble in some respects, obviously the jerk was the best employee and if all things remained as is, firing him would have crippled the team. Often times however, an individual’s performance doesn’t just hinge on themselves but on other varying factors within the office.
So in summary, optimism and positive thinking, doesn’t just help you be content, it helps those around you and it may even save your job.