Friends, Family, Bad Hires and Remodeling

Here are some nice euphemisms for firing someone.

The traditional: “We need to move in another direction.”

The direct: “You’re fired.”

The scary: “He’s swimming with the fishes (sic)” — how you get fired on The Sopranos or in one of the Godfather movies.

Letting someone go is not much fun. But at least once in your business life (probably more), you are going to need to let the axe fall. It is a lot easier and much less painful when it does not involve a family member or a friend. That is why many remodeling firms have strong anti-nepotism policies. It also gives you a solid reason to say “no” when your ne’er-do-well brother-in-law comes to you for a job.

How am I so confident that firing is part of the business? I recently talked with a group of remodelers and no matter whether their company was performing well or performing badly, the key issues for most centered on personnel — how to get someone to take responsibility for more and different tasks, how to get them pulling in the same direction, and, simply too many people on staff.

In many cases, it dawns on remodelers over time that they simply have too many people. They want to lower overhead. Other times, the role for a specific person becomes less clearly defined and their function less needed. But the No. 1 reason for letting someone go is usually related to an individual’s disposition toward the remodeler/owner and their business. These are employees who have developed what is commonly described as a “bad attitude.”

I’ve heard stories about management staffers who are secretly in the habit of constantly giving a negative spin on the owner’s leadership. Or there are trusted staffers who have become a hindrance with customers — they have become less service oriented or have become a source of complaints. These types of issues can be very corrosive to company morale. The initial response by an owner is usually to deny the problem exists and maybe let it fester until a peer gently points it out. It is only then, when the facts are on the table, that a change becomes the best option for a company.

This is particularly hard because remodeling companies are mostly small and tightly knit. But many remodelers who have had to make tough decisions like these report that, in retrospect, they would have done it sooner and that their company is in a better place for having made the tough call. And ultimately, it may also be in the best interest of the departed employee. After all, says Jim Strite, CR, of Strite Design + Remodel, Boise, Idaho they are “freed up for the next part of their life.”

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