Eliminating Disruptive Influences

posted by Administrator on 02/11/2022 in Blog Posts  | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
By: Tom Cramer


It can often seem that your role as a CEO involves a continuous stream of daily battles. As you develop and grow your business, the last thing you need is difficult people lobbing grenades into your operations. Yet, as we see in our article Understanding the Challenges of Difficult People, those individuals are often a part of the realities with which you must deal. 

Time: Your Most Precious Resource

Capital is often considered the most critical element for entrepreneurial success. You can address the need for capital. On the other hand, the one resource you can never enjoy enough of its time. When you find yourself allocating too much of your limited daily hours to dealing with difficult people and the distractions they often create, it is essential to act.

The steps reviewed in our second article on this topic, Dealing with Difficult People, may lead you to conclude it is necessary to eliminate someone causing those time drains. Taking such action is difficult for many leaders, especially if it involves friends or long-time associates. Yet, no one can grow and perform well in a persistently negative environment. 

Ironically, addressing these issues is often as beneficial for the individual concerned as it is for your organization. As necessary as it may be, taking that proactive stance requires careful planning and thoughtful, compassionate execution.

Following a Planned Process

One important reason to eliminate a difficult person as soon as it is determined to be necessary is to avoid an unplanned separation or emotion-driven incident. The effect of that difficult relationship can grind down you and members of your team, creating morale issues and growing resentment. If a situation is left to create an increasing level of friction within your team, it can precipitate very negative consequences.

The steps you must follow to end a relationship will vary depending on the situation, the individual, and the employment laws of your state. However, the general process starts with the identification of the problem we discussed earlier. Once you have acknowledged you have to act, the second step is determining what possibility counseling and remediation might produce a positive outcome.

It is worth considering that you, as the CEO of an SMB, will not have the human resource management tools and infrastructure found in much larger companies. While you want to be compassionate and considerate, it is seldom a wise option to put too much faith and effort into extended counseling or probationary procedures. This is the perfect application of the weakest link metaphor. Your organization simply can’t allow unnecessary distractions to weaken your team and your company’s ability to survive and thrive.

Before you finalize any plan of action, review the situation with your trusted advisors and your company’s attorney. Steps include:

  • Determine what timeframe and administrative processes are required for compliance with all employment laws and regulations. 
  • Review your employee handbook and follow the process your company has explained. Even in an employment-at-will state, certain protocols will mitigate the potential for litigation or inappropriate claims.

As a part of this process document in writing any specific reasons, violations, and other items that support your perspective of performance. Be objective and factual in these records.

Other items to consider include:

  • Whether your action will trigger any unemployment insurance liabilities
  • Timing of the termination/separation to take into consideration compensation and bonuses, any equity or vesting of ownership, and other benefits or contractual obligations
  • Determine if the individual will be given the choice of resigning if a letter of recommendation will be provided, and what will be provided in pay and benefits after termination or separation.
  • Carefully consider any other legal requirements for a proper termination in your state
  • Plan for any immediate action needed at the time of separation, such as recovering company property, changing passwords and security codes, and notifying payroll personnel.

Taking Action: Firm, Factual, Face-to-Face

The actual termination event should be held in private and, generally, carried out by the immediate supervisor. This is “in-the-trench” leadership, and it takes a firm hand to properly handle the meeting. Keep the session short and on point, and ensure it does not evolve into anything else.

With few exceptions, it is best to escort (in a non-confrontational manner) the individual from the workspaces and immediately implement the planned steps.

When notifying your team of the action, keep the news short, factual, and free of any personal attacks on the individual.

The Takeaway:

As tough as this is for many, eliminating the difficult person from your organization’s work environment is an important element of effective leadership. The three keys are 1) take action promptly, 2) plan the termination carefully, 3) execute the plan professionally.