When the situation is gray . . .

Personnel Changes, Part One

What’s best for your organization is not always what’s easiest for you, the leader. Instead of making difficult changes, we often put them off or avoid them all together. One such change is a personnel change. It’s always easier to work around or hire around people than it is to remove them. Personnel changes can be messy and painful, but they are a necessary part of a healthy organization.

Any number of factors can lead to a personnel change:

  • An individual fails morally or ethically.
  • A financial downturn forces broad reevaluation of personnel.
  • A position outgrows an employee.
  • An individual doesn’t fit the culture of the organization.
  • An individual demonstrates a poor work ethic.

Situations like these oftentimes make it easy to determine when a personnel change needs to happen. Although the change itself will present a challenge, it will be clear that a change needs to be made.

What about those not-so-clear situations? How do you determine when a personnel change needs to happen when the situation is not black and white? These gray situations often begin with an ongoing, nagging suspicion about a person. Pay attention to those feelings. In Good To Great, Jim Collins suggests asking two questions when these nagging suspicions begin:

  • Would I hire this person again?
  • If he or she quit, would I secretly be relieved?

Your honest answers to these questions can help you determine if a change is needed. Your answers will bring clarity. They may also help you realize a change is not needed. Maybe the person just needs coaching through a situation or there is just a difference in personalities.

Personnel changes are difficult. There is always tension leading up to the change and there is always an aftermath. But leaders who want to create a healthy work culture must deal with personnel changes from time to time. Knowing when to do so is critical.

In part two we will share a principle that will help you when it’s time to make a personnel change. It is very difficult to apply, but not applying it can prove deadly to your organization.