Let Them Go
I was working with a team recently that was making some major changes. As often happens when there are major changes, some people were excited about the changes and others were resistant. After several months, there were still a few people that were resisting the changes.
The owner told me that he felt like he was stuck. He told me that he had compassion for these people, especially since they hadn’t signed up for the changes. They were good people who had done some really good work, but they were just struggling to get onboard with the changes. In fact, a couple of them were downright rebelling. The owner kept saying that he wanted to be compassionate, but that it was hard to lead the team with a few people pushing back.
The word “compassion” really struck me in the conversation, so I challenged him with a question.
If a person is in a job that they no longer enjoy working for an organization that is going in a direction that they cannot follow, what is the compassionate thing to do? Is it better to pretend like nothing is wrong and let a few employees continue to be miserable while holding back your team? Or is it better to be clear about the organization’s direction and let them decide to either be a part of it, or decide to move on.
We sometimes think that our own organization is the “end all, be all” place of employment for our employees, but it is often not. If an employee isn’t a fit, there probably is a better place for them and it might be outside your organization. This doesn’t mean that you have to be upset at them or fire them. In fact, there are lots of ways that you can help a misaligned employee find their place or even find another job. This could even become a “thank you for firing me” situation.
The bottom line is that we sometimes get confused about what is really compassionate. Keeping someone where they don’t belong is not an act of compassion.